The team of 65 competitors selected to represent the UK at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 was unveiled this morning.
The team of wounded, injured and sick serving military personnel and veterans came together for the first time at the Honourable Artillery Company and were joined by The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, who posed with the athletes for the first official team photograph and wished them luck for the Games next May.
More than 350 hopefuls trialed nine sports for one of the 65 places available on Team UK and a staggering 89% of the selected team have never competed at an Invictus Games before. The rigorous selection process for Team UK was based on the benefit the Invictus Games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training.
This morning, Team UK also unveiled its’ first female captain, RAF Veteran Rachel Williamson.
While playing for a RAF team, Rachel received a rugby injury, which developed into a functional neurological disorder, and she ultimately lost the ability to use her arm completely. She almost gave up on fitness forever.
She said: “This year I aim to build the new me and take the final step to where I want to be. I’ve accepted my injury; learnt I can let my emotions go and not be embarrassed or afraid about asking for help.
“Now it’s time I raise the bar by trying new sports, being positive and happier with less excuses. The Invictus Games offers an amazing opportunity through sport to regain that sense of pride which can be lost following the onset of mental or physical disabilities. Sport empowers us to refocus our attention on what we can do, rather than what we can’t. To be selected as Team UK Captain is truly an honour and I feel immensely proud to be given this opportunity.”
The team will compete in nine sports: Athletics; Archery; Wheelchair Basketball; Cycling; Powerlifting; Indoor Rowing; Wheelchair Rugby; Swimming and Sitting Volleyball. They continue to train from now until May in various locations across the country as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme and role to train and develop the team.
Hannah Lawton, Chef de Mission for Team UK, said: “The 65 men and women selected to represent Team UK will not only gain a personal recovery benefit from taking part in the Games but they will hopefully inspire others suffering with life-changing injuries or illnesses that anything is possible.
Our competitors are proudly serving their country again and showing that they will not let their injury or illness define them. As a team, we are especially proud of the fact that 89% of Team UK have never competed in the Invictus Games before.
We are very proud to be working alongside these 65 athletes and wish them the best of luck as they embark on their Invictus Games journeys.”
Invictus UK is delivered by a partnership between Help for Heroes, The Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion. BAE Systems is proud to support Team UK for the first time.