Meghan’s hon­oured to be part of In­vic­tus fam­ily

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

THE Duchess of Sus­sex thanked the In­vic­tus fam­ily for wel­com­ing her into the fold as the Syd­ney event closed yes­ter­day.

Meghan told the au­di­ence at the Qu­dos Bank Arena, she had wit­nessed “amaz­ing sup­port net­works” be­tween the 500 com­peti­tors.

Harry founded the In­vic­tus Games in 2014 for wounded ser­vice­men and women, with events pre­vi­ously be­ing held in Lon­don, Toronto and Florida.

The mother-to-be said: “It is such an hon­our to be here tonight cel­e­brat­ing all of you, and sup­port­ing my hus­band in the In­vic­tus Games, which he founded four years ago.

“In that short span of time, the Games have evolved into an in­ter­na­tional plat­form of some of the best ath­let­ics and sports­man­ship you could ever wit­ness, cou­pled with a ca­ma­raderie and close-knit sense of com­mu­nity which can only be de­fined as the In­vic­tus Spirit.

“With that said, and on a very per­sonal note, I just wanted to thank all of you for wel­com­ing me into the In­vic­tus fam­ily. I am truly so grate­ful to be a part of this with each and ev­ery one of you.”

The clos­ing cer­e­mony, in Syd­ney’s Olympic Park, fea­tured per­for­mances from Colin Hay and Aloe Blacc, with David Beck­ham among the stars in the crowd.

One touch­ing mo­ment came af­ter Ed­win Ver­met­ten of the Nether­lands won the Land Rover Above and Be­yond award.

Mr Ver­met­ten com­forted Bri­ton Paul Guest dur­ing a wheel­chair ten­nis match af­ter Mr Guest’s post trau­matic stress disor­der was trig­gered by a he­li­copter pass­ing over­head. The Dutch­man sang Let It Go from the movie Frozen on court and the pair em­braced as he re­ceived the award.

David Hur­ley, Gover­nor of New South Wales, quipped that Harry had made “three wise de­ci­sions”.

He said: “Firstly, your de­ci­sion to marry Her Royal High­ness. Se­condly, your de­ci­sion to bring the 2018 In­vic­tus Games to Syd­ney. And thirdly, your de­ci­sion a few years back to cre- ate the In­vic­tus Games to as­sist our ser­vice­men and women.”

The Duke of Sus­sex closed the Games say­ing the per­for­mances from the com­peti­tors from 18 na­tions had been hum­bling and in­spir­ing.

He said: “They are men and women who have con­fronted a chal­lenge and over­come it. They are or­di­nary peo­ple do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary things. And with the help of their friends and fam­i­lies, they have ex­ceeded ev­ery ex­pec­ta­tion.

“That is some­thing we can all as­pire to. You do not have to be a vet­eran who has fought back from in­jury to be in­spired by the In­vic­tus ex­am­ple. You can be a teacher or a doc­tor, a mum or a dad, a child or a grand­par­ent, a farmer, a plumber, a lawyer, or a CEO. Or any­thing at all.

“You can iden­tify some­thing in your own life that you want to change for the bet­ter. And you can let the men and women of the In­vic­tus Games re­mind you that no chal­lenge is too dif­fi­cult to over­come.”

He also spoke of the im­por­tance of dis­cussing men­tal health.

He said: “By sim­ply be­ing here and fight­ing back from some of the dark­est ex­pe­ri­ences known to any­one, you have be­come role mod­els for ev­ery­one at home or in the stands who might be strug­gling with their emo­tions or with a men­tal ill­ness.

“For that friend or com­rade you know who is un­able to open up about their strug­gles. For that man or woman who has watched on tele­vi­sion, you are prov­ing that it’s OK to talk about how we feel.

“To girls and boys who see you speak­ing openly about anx­i­ety, stress, and de­pres­sion, you are show­ing it’s OK not to be OK. And most im­por­tantly, you are show­ing us all that it’s OK to ask for help.”

The next Games will take place in the Hague in 2020, and the Duke and Duchess will con­tinue their 16-day tour in New Zealand to­day.

CHRIS JACK­SON

The Duchess of Sus­sex presents gold medals to the United States wheel­chair bas­ket­ball team at the In­vic­tus Games 2018 in Syd­ney yes­ter­day

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