“Time and time again, competitors from around the world tell me that sport has saved them; that the Invictus Games have given them a new lease on life; and that to represent their country again with fellow comrades is something they could only have dreamt of while lying in hospital.”
There is something rather heroic about Prince Harry, because what gets to me, is his modesty and intrinsic kindness. Unlike his father, HRH Prince Charles, he has chosen to be amongst ordinary men and women, disabled veterans, and people he himself has described in the past as forgotten. Whilst maintaining his mothers common touch, what he has done for disabled ex service veterans, is a miracle.
Through the Invictus Games, Prince Harry has not only rescued many veterans from total obscurity, but by giving them a new purpose in life, though sport, he has managed to stick various national flags, on their tracksuits, to prove it. Creating the opportunity for them all to compete in sports, which otherwise would have not been open to them, he has not only helped these athletes to rediscover their self esteem and pride, but he has also managed to turn them into good old fashioned entertainment. And, why not?
Taking place in Toronto between 23rd September to the 30th it was sponsored this year by Canada 150, Land Rover and Jaguar. This all sounds very British, until you get to the countries competing for medals in these Paralympic Games. There are entries from seventeen countries, including:- Afganistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, New Zealand, Holland, Romania, Ukraine, UK, and finally the US.
All their sports programs mirror the Olympic Games, national and world sporting events, are organized and monitored by recognized professional sporting bodies, with the usual checks and balances. Most of the sporting events are for wheel chair disabilities, but many are not. Some of the athletes do not have mobility issues, and they will be competing in their own categories. In all there are 12 sports involved, which will last until the end of September 2017, with 550 competitors from seventeen countries.
The games are run by 1500 volunteers, proving that kindness has not been entirely forgotten in a world full of greed and violence, although it has to be said, that most of the injuries caused to the competitors, were the result of wars, revolution, religious fundamentalism, and in particular, turmoil in the Balkans and the Middle East.
Princess Diana was very aware of the horrors of land mines and the damage they can cause to service men and women, as well as improvised roadside bombs. A scourge on humanity these devices have been banned in most counties, but manufactured partly from plastic, they can last for centuries. It takes quite a small land mine to blow off a limb, but the damage caused as a result – to families and dependants as well as the victim themselves – is enormous.
Both Princess Diana’s sons have turned out to be familier with the plight of ordinary people, their hopes and aspirations. When I heard that some Labor MP called Emma Dent Coad, was mocking Harry at the Labor Party conference recently, I was astounded. Trying to demean him as a public figure, and implying that he wasn’t even a full Apache helicopter pilot, I wondered what the disabled athletes in Canada would have to say to her. Because, he is not only a qualified pilot but a weapons expert as well, and consequently had as much experience of war as many of the competitors in the Invictus Games. What has this MP has ever done to help anyone but herself, is a good question? So, well done Harry, and keep up the good work!
Regarding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the love hate relationship that the international press has with British royalty? Considering the horrible circumstances of his mother’s death, twenty years ago, you might imagine that the press; out of respect, would have learned not to be so intrusive. Decent people deserve privacy, to spend their time with family and friends without fear of being photographed, misquoted, or harassed in any way. Lets hope that Harry and Meghan are treated with respect, and that he continues doing his good deeds.
By Colin Trump