Invictus Games The Hague 2020

Jun 12, 2023
5 Min read
Invictus Games

INVICTUS GAMES TOUCH EVERYONE’S HEART

The Hague – The Invictus Games The Hague 2020 presented by Jaguar Land Rover concluded Friday evening with a spectacular Closing Ceremony. The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, Founding Patron of the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, spoke of an “incredible week.”

The Duke assured the competitors that they don’t stand alone. “We are here with you. We don’t talk about what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you. Bottle the memory and feeling of this week. You have done it. You made your goals, made your family happy. And you leave stronger then you arrived.”

The closing ceremony was also attended by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. In the afternoon, he visited the final of the wheelchair basketball tournament between the Netherlands and the United States and met the Dutch delegation for the Invictus Games.

COMPETITOR FIRST

Mart de Kruif, chairman of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 organising committee, looks back with gratitude on the past week. “We are especially pleased that we have managed to focus on the participants of the Invictus Games and their Family & Friends. That was the starting point, and it’s great that we were able to keep it up. That is precisely what has given us a lot of appreciation.”

The various team managers were very pleased with the past week in The Hague. Hannah Lawton (Team UK): “Due to the corona pandemic, we had to wait a long time for the Invictus Games to take place, but we had such a great time in The Hague. The competitors were at the centre of attention which did our team a lot of good, and made them feel like absolute stars. The fact that the Dutch organisation had chosen for a compact set-up, with everything together in one park, contributed to the success. It worked so well and I can’t wait to see how the next Invictus Games take on that challenge.”

Travis Claytor (Team USA): “We found The Hague to be the perfect setting, raising a new standard. This week, Team USA has witnessed quite a few of our competitors take important steps towards mental recovery in particular and for us, that is the big advantage of these Invictus Games. The camaraderie between the different countries was also great.”

ALMOST 100,000 VISITORS

The sun-drenched Zuiderpark was visited by almost a hundred thousand visitors last week, and the event attracted great interest from the media. With viewing figures on NOS and BBC for the Opening Ceremony reaching high numbers , the daily program on both channels was also well watched. This enabled the Netherlands and the world to once again become acquainted with the special character of the Invictus Games. The event is not about winning medals, but about the road to recovery. Many of them have suffered physical or mental trauma during service. The Invictus Games use the power of sport to help this group rediscover themselves.

Ever since the Opening Ceremony on Saturday 16 April, the atmosphere in the Zuiderpark, which has been renamed Invictus Games Park, has been unique. There was not only room for sports, but also for entertainment in the form of concerts and performances by various military orchestras, DI-RECT, Nick & Simon and Waylon.

ALL THE WHILE, ALLOWING TIME FOR REFLECTION AND CONNECTIONS.

A yellow bench was introduced during the Opening Ceremony. The intention is to have yellow benches all over the world where people can listen to each other’s stories. It is healing when you find, or share, a listening ear. A lasting legacy of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 will be benches set up around the world, with supporting organisations already embracing the idea.

During the event, one of the Dutch Invictus Games participant, Ronald van Dort, presented an award to Sander de Bont, the colleague who saved his life in 2008 during a mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Mart de Kruif: “Such stories make the Invictus Games special, they touch everyone. When you see someone, after 12 dark years, stepping onto the field here, surrounded by his comrades, you know that this is much more than just a sporting event. I am especially proud of that.”

The next Invictus Games will be held in Düsseldorf from 9 to 16 September 2023.

It was also announced in The Hague that the Invictus Games 2025 will be held in Vancouver and Whistler, in Canada. As the first ever Winter Hybrid Games, winter sports will also be added to the program for the first time.

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Düsseldorf hosted 550 competitors and their friends and family from 21 nations from the 9-16 September 2023. The sixth Invictus Games hosted medal competitions in 10 sports and featured the Invictus Games debut of Table Tennis. Düsseldorf 2023 made history as it was the first Invictus Games to feature participating nations from South America and Africa with the respective debuts of Colombia and Nigeria.

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Team UK

Tom Folwell

Tom Folwell is one of the contributors to the Heart of Invictus documentary series, launched online August 30th.

Former sapper in the army, Tom Folwell competed at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, captaining Team UK’s wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball squads, as well as competing in sitting volleyball.

Tom served in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2015, losing both his legs in a bomb blast whilst on foot patrol in Helmand Province. Standing on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) left Tom with life-changing injuries and brought his career to an end. The situation worsened as medics, headed for Birmingham, had to stop off in Cyprus so that they could tend to a blood clot that Tom had subsequently developed.

Since then, Tom’s recovery has also involved battling with sleep apnoea which developed as a result of the injury. This had a serious impact on his wellbeing but gave rise to his renewed appreciation for sport, in particular an interest in Wheelchair Rugby.

Beyond the Invictus Games, the Invictus Games Foundation also offers opportunities for recovery through sport and adventurous challenge, facilitated by the platform We Are Invictus. Not only has Tom competed in the Invictus Games but he has also taken part in virtual activities such as the Powered by Invictus Sitting Volleyball leagues. These opportunities helped to reinvigorate him, reminding him of how important it is to keep learning and improving.

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Team Canada

Darrell Ling

Darrell Ling is one of the contributors to the Heart of Invictus documentary series, launched online August 30th.

He joined the Navy as a marine electrician, serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) between 1986 and 1992. His involvement in various military responses over this time, including the Swissair flight 111 crash and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, had a major impact on Darrell’s mental health. In 2016, he was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorder.

Darrell's injuries contributed to further isolation and eventually homelessness. Determined to put his life back together, he reached out to other veterans in Canada with whom he was able to build meaningful bonds.

This eventually led him to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, where he successfully took part in the archery, indoor rowing and wheelchair basketball.

Beyond the Invictus Games, the Invictus Games Foundation also offers opportunities for recovery through sport and adventurous challenge, facilitated by the platform We Are Invictus. Darrell has taken part in numerous We Are Invictus opportunities, including several virtual London Marathons and the IGF Powered by Invictus virtual Rowing league. Having experienced the benefits of competing, first hand, he now feels passionate about inspiring others to see sports as a path to recovery.

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Team USA

Gabriel 'Gabe' George

Gabriel (Gabe) George is one of the contributors to the Heart of Invictus documentary series, launched online August 30th.

Gabe, also known as ‘the One-Armed Archer’, joined the U.S Navy in 2004 having trained as a corpsman. He spent two years on ship and served behind the wire at Guantanamo Bay.

In April 2008, he was hit by a driver whilst riding his motorbike. After spending three weeks in a coma, Gabe was left with a traumatic brain injury, spinal damage and a paralysed right arm, which required amputation. After the accident, Gabe realised he could still engage in sports, including archery. He learned how to use a device which allowed him to fire a bow by pulling the string with his teeth and went on to compete at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 as part of the Team US archery, swimming and indoor rowing teams.

Despite his numerous serious injuries, Gabe maintains a positive outlook on life and is involved with various organisations, focused on helping other wounded veterans.

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Team UK

Vicki Ross

Vicki is is one of the contributors to the Heart of Invictus documentary series, launched online August 30th.

Former Warrant Officer, Victoria (Vicki) Ross, won gold in indoor rowing at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020. She also competed as part of Team UK’s Wheelchair Rugby team, securing silver after being narrowly beaten by the USA.

Vicki experienced a number of injuries during her time in the Army, including nerve damage, shoulder impingement and knee surgery, all of which left her with acute anxiety. Feeling physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, her journey to the Invictus Games gave her a new focus. It allowed her to explore her potential within an unfamiliar environment and ultimately rediscover the person she once was.

Beyond the Invictus Games, the Invictus Games Foundation also offers opportunities for recovery through sport and adventurous challenge, facilitated by the platform We Are Invictus. Vicki has also competed in various Powered by Invictus virtual leagues such as cycling, rowing and sitting volleyball.

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