Prince Harry announced from London via video this morning that the second Invictus Games will be held May 8-12, 2016, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Invictus Games is the only international adaptive sporting event for injured active duty and veteran service members.
The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country as well as their families and caregivers.
Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will bring together more than 400 competitors from up to 14 nations to compete in 10 sports – archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
“The power of sports and competition has proven to me that I am still the same person I was before injury. No matter what comes I will face that adversity and come out on top, Unconquered,” said U.S. Army Sergeant Ryan McIntosh, a winner of three medals in London in 2014, including one gold. McIntosh was also the MVP for a celebrity wheelchair rugby match that included Prince Harry.
Following a visit to the U.S.-based Warrior Games, Prince Harry was inspired to create an expanded international version and founded the first Invictus Games hosted in London in 2014.
The Invictus Games Foundation awarded the 2016 Games to Orlando because of the area’s great tourism infrastructure and Disney’s outstanding sporting facilities. The Orlando area also has a large veteran population and is home to the Orlando VA Medical Center, which serves over 90,000 veterans.
“I am absolutely delighted to announce that the United States has taken up the challenge and will host the next Invictus Games near Orlando, Florida,” said Prince Harry. “I can’t wait to see the American public supporting these inspirational men and women at the next Games. And what better place to host such a great family event than Orlando.”
The Fisher House Foundation was a sponsor of the 2014 Invictus Games. Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation, will serve as Chairman and CEO for Invictus Games Orlando 2016.
“Sport and exercise are important to the health and healing of our wounded military heroes,” said Fisher. “We are honored the Invictus Games is coming to the United States and grateful to have a world class facility and host in Walt Disney World Resort and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The competitors, their families and caregivers are all inspirations and each of their stories is a testament to courage, love and perseverance.”
Competitors, live audiences and those watching the 2016 Invictus Games at home will be treated to the world-class venues of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the pre-eminent multi-sport facility of its kind. Having hosted more than 70 different sports featuring competitors from more than 70 different countries, including events for wounded military veterans, the 230-acre Disney facility is uniquely positioned to host a global event such as the Invictus Games 2016.
“Disney is proud to host the 2016 Invictus Games Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and support service men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, studies show that adaptive sports provide clear benefits for disabled veterans including less stress, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, fewer secondary medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension), higher achievement in education and employment and more independence.
The 2014 Invictus Games opened with the help of a message from First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden presented medals to the American team during the medals ceremonies. More than 400 competitors from 13 nations competed for gold in nine sports and a driving challenge. Some 65,000 spectators attended the sporting events, opening ceremony and closing concert and more than 10 million watched the Games on the BBC.
The word Invictus means “unconquered.” It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded service personnel who are on the journey to recovery. Generations have drawn on the words of William Ernest Henley’s 1878 poem “Invictus” for strength during times of adversity. “I am the master of my fate,” wrote Henley, himself an amputee.