You are all Invictus. You are now ambassadors for the spirit of these games. Spread the word. Never stop fighting. And do all you can to lift up everyone around you.The Duke of Sussex
Good evening everybody and everybody watching at home.
Wow, what a ride the last four days has been – I said you would be moved, inspired and entertained – was I right? As the great Stevie Wonder says: Team work makes the dream work!
4 days, 10 sports, 13 support dogs, 14 nations, 149 events, 410 medals, 485 competitors, 836 volunteers, 1008 friends and family, hundreds of hours of gruelling competition - and more smiles, tears, hugs and cheers than you could ever count.
I’d like to begin by thanking Ken Fisher for taking up the challenge of hosting the games here in the US and also to thank his team, led by Vicky Gosling, for delivering a remarkable event. We’re all so grateful for all you’ve done.
I’ve been hugely honoured to hand out gold silver and bronze medals over the course of this competition, but what meant the most to me, was handing out your Invictus Foundation medallions this evening. Those medallions are the real prizes, for the years of intense rehabilitation you’ve put yourselves through to be here.
The competition has been fierce with performances of the highest international standard across a number of events. But what inspired me, was the courage to make it to the starting line, to take to the field or to dive into that pool, motivated by the goal of giving your all - medal or no medal. You showed your families, your friends and yourselves, just how far you’ve come, regardless of the result.
I know by your nature you all want to win, but these games are so much more than that – Invictus is so much more than that.
What could explain the remarkable sportsmanship of Mark Urquart in sacrificing gold on the track to push Stephen Simmons into first place? Invictus!
How else could I describe the way I felt seeing Tim Payne, a man I met three years ago to the day, in his hospital bed at Walter Reed, beaming as he wore his gold medal round his neck? Invictus!
What defines the spirit of Denmark’s Jonas Andersen, who loaded the coffin of his friend onto the flight which changed my life in 2008, and then fought through his own dark days to compete in London and Orlando? Invictus!
What is the force that drives Elizabeth Marks to return to these games after nearly dying two years ago, to compete now, at the highest level, in a sport that renders her blind and faint? Invictus!
What makes us cheer for Luke Synott, who took up wheelchair tennis, not just to represent his country again, but so he could play the sport with his children? Invictus!
Why did we stand in our seats, cheering our hearts out as Jordanian Wheelchair racer – Ulfat Al-Zwiri – fought, inch by inch, to the finish line? Invictus!
What else could we say about the woman who wrote to me after watching the opening ceremony on Sunday night, to say she’d realised the time had come for her husband to get help for his depression? Invictus.
Why did the 9/11 hero, Sarah Rudder, pick herself up when she fell, just meters from the finish line, and push on for a silver medal and into the embrace of her French rival? Invictus!
You are all Invictus. You are now ambassadors for the spirit of these games. Spread the word. Never stop fighting. And do all you can to lift up everyone around you.
I’ll see you in Toronto!