Back in 2014 we previewed the first Invictus Games which were taking place in London. In 2016 the USA has taken up the baton and the tournament is heading to the sunny climes of Orlando, Florida. Despite the distance they promise to be an exciting series of events and more importantly global show of support and strength for injured Service Men and Women.
Invictus kicks off on May 8th and runs until 12th. With all the mega sporting events happening in 2016 it would be easy to overlook the Invictus Games – so what can you expect from this sporting extravaganza? We took a look…
Invictus means ‘Unconquered’. The Invictus games are an event for servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries in the line of duty – so that’s quite some statement. It’s true though when you look at just how much effort participants put into the competition.
There are some big name stars backing the games too. There’s our very own Prince Harry of course – who was instrumental in setting them up – but other headline supporters include Morgan Freeman, Derek Hough, Katherine Jenkins and former Olympic Gold Medallist gymnast Shawn Johnson. There’s also Mike Myers and American Comedian Conan O’Brien.
Around 500 competitors from 15 nations will be representing their country across 10 events, suited to a range of disabilities. As well as host nation USA and representatives from founding nation the United kingdom, the contest will also feature entrants from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Germany, Jordan the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The events themselves cover a range of sports that will be familiar to fas of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There are three wheelchair events the first is Wheelchair Rugby, which originated in Canada in the mid 1970s. Players with loss of function in at least three limbs are eligible and a point system used to score their functional level. There’s a lot of strategy involved as the total team points cannot exceed 8. It’s a dramatic full contact sport, so expect drama.
Wheelchair BasketBall is far less full on and the rules are close to those of the able-bodied game. The main exception is the rule around travelling (moving whilst holding the ball – which is illegal in normal Basketball) – where athletes are permitted to touch their wheels up to twice, before they have to pass, bounce or shoot.
Wheelchair Tennis is already part and parcel of many of the major Tennis tournaments (including The Championships, Wimbledon), but is also a popular fixture on the Invictus schedule. The major difference from the conventional game is that the ball is allowed to bounce twice before being returned.
Sitting Volleyball is a team sport – with 6 players on the court for each team. It has a lower net – and the main rule is that at least one buttock has to be in contact with the ground at all times.
Indoor Rowing. If you’ve been on the rowing machine at the Gym you’ll know just how gruelling it can be. The Rowing challenge at the Invictus Games is a race, but takes place in the security of an indoor environment.
Archery is as similar to its able-bodied counterpart as any sport at the games. During 20 ‘ends’ competitors fire three arrows at a target, scoring 10 points for hitting a central gold – descending by one point for each of the 10 scoring zones moving out from the centre.
Powerlifting is fairly self explanatory , with competitors lifting increasingly heavy weights through the course of a knockout competition. Invictus competitors compete in classes based on their disability.
Road cycling. We all remember the inspiration of Alex Zanardi on his hand cycle at the London Olympics. Invictus entrants can emulate the Gold Medallist on a range of machines – depending on their disability – with class for recumbent, road and hand cycles. Competitions include series of time trials and circuit races.
Swimming the swimming events at the Invictus Games mirror those of other major swimming tournaments. The races, covering Freestyle, Backstroke and Breastroke, range from 50m to 100m.
Track and Field will see athletes with varied disabilities compete with counterparts across disciplines that will be familiar to all – sprinting and middle-distance track competitions, javelin and shot put for the men and discus for the women.
If you fancy watching the action from the Games there’s good news. The BBC will be broadcasting a highlights package, including the opening and closing ceremonies, from Monday 9th – Friday 13th May. Find out the full schedule of events over on the Invictus Games 2016 website.