Prince Harry cheered on hopefuls for this year’s Orlando Invictus Games yesterday, as they took part in try-outs at Bath University, marking the 100 day countdown until the 2016 games.
Harry, who founded the games based on a competition her saw for injured ex-soldiers in America, got to speak with those competing, as they warmed up before the trials began.
Help for Heroes is running the trials, assisted by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion; this weekend will see another two days of try outs.
Wounded, injured and sick military personnel are competing across 10 sports – athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, road cycling, powerlifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair tennis – wanting to be part of the team heading to Orlando in May. 100 athletes will be chosen to compete.
As the redhead Prince watched the athletes compete, one wheelchair sprinter had photos taken with Harry. As he walked away, Anna Pollock was blown over by a gust of wind. Harry rescued the damsel in distress, and helped right her chair.
She said: “I wanted a picture and I thought, if I don’t do it now I never will, so I went to get a picture.
“Afterwards I was putting my gloves on when the wind took me over.”
Pollock, was trying out for a number of sprint races, then spoke of the jokes between her and Harry: “Harry said to me ‘what did you do that for?’ and I said ‘are you sure you had nothing to do with it?'”
Prince Harry,31, gave a short speech at the venue, speaking of the anticipation for the games, which were a huge success in 2014.
“The excitement is building not just here but also across the pond. You will be unbelievably amazed by the amount of support there is out there for you.
“It’s not necessarily about selection but it’s about the whole piece. The way it’s fixing you, whether it’s mental or physical. To be able to be in this process,” he said.
He also made comments about the poor weather in the UK currently – and the contrast sunny Florida would be.
One competitor, Nathan Cumberland, trained with Harry for a tour of Afghanistan in 2009. He said: “It’s always good to see the ginger muppet.”
“He doesn’t have to come here, but he does and that’s great. It gives everyone a boost. He’s one of the lads – he’s been there and done it.”
Prince Charles will be in Bath on Monday.