Everyone is making a big deal about the announcement of the second and third Invictus Games, taking place in 2016 and 2017 in Orlando, Florida and Toronto, Canada, respectively. Created by Price Harry, the games celebrates wounded and sick members of the world’s various armed forces, with vets taking part in numerous sporting events. But what about the first event back in 2014? Who were the first Invictus Games winners?
The 2014 Invictus Games were held in London, England, and took place from September 11 to September 14. Fourteen countries were invited to attend from North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania; no countries in Africa were offered a chance to attend. While Iraq declined to participate, the other 13 in attendance were: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Georgia and Estonia.
Events were separated into nine categories: archery, wheelchair rugby, cycling, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball, power lifting, swimming, sitting volleyball, and athletics, which included the likes of javelin throwing and shot put. Both men and women competed, though the former had far more events and competitors over the course of the four days. However, this is to be expected, as most countries’ armed forces are still predominantly men.
The 2014 Invictus Games winners list is available on the official results web site and listed the full ranks for each competition and the appropriate results (time, distance, etc.). The hosts of the event, the United Kingdom, were the big winners of the event, taking away numerous first-place victories, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, the 400m Women Open IT6, sitting volleyball, and men’s power lifting (both lightweight and heavyweight). The United States may not have been the kings of the mountain, but their veterans put on solid performances, often being the team the Brits faced in the finals of the above events and winning the likes of the 4x100m Mixed Relay, many of the road cycling events, and women’s lightweight power lifting.
While the media primarily chose to focus individual attention on Prince Harry than any of the athletes, despite their service and sacrifice, The Telegraph took the time to write about three men who took part in the games after living inspirational lives.
Martyn Gibbons (U.K., Road Cycling)
Suffering massive injuries to both his legs in Afghanistan in 2010, Gibbons took to cycling to help build their strength back up, going from moving slower than most people’s walk speed to being able to cart his daughter around. He later created a group designed to give the sick and wounded access to biking trails so they could do the same as him.
Xavier Le Draoulec (France, Track and Field & Swimming)
Now in his 50s, Le Draoulec lost his leg to a landmine. Despite now needing a prosthetic limb, he asked to be redeployed as soon as possible. Having previously competed in the Paralympic Games, he enjoyed the greater sense of brotherhood that the Invictus Games provides as all participants are soldiers.
Jacob Emmott (U.S., Archery & Swimming)
Emmott, a medic in the Marine Corps, took a bullet to the face in 2010 and was lucky enough to survive. However, the bullet damaged the part of his brain that handles speech and caused swelling, leading him to need speech therapy, a titanium plate in his skill and something to trait his daily head pain and constant migraines. While he was never able to return to duty, he saw the Invictus Games as “another reason to recover.”