Injured, wounded and sick servicemen and women takes the ultimate sporting challenge this September as the first ever Invictus Games takes place in London and the BBC will be providing comprehensive coverage.
Over 400 competitors will take part from 14 nations, competing in nine sports, across four days in the first edition of this truly unique international sporting event, many of whom have returned from recent conflicts with life-threatening injuries.
Championed by HRH Prince Harry, the Invictus Games will be a celebration of resilience and passion, shining a spotlight on Armed Forces personnel and veterans who have put their lives on the line for their country and demonstrating how they and their families are valued, respected and supported.
It promises four days of intense competition but also amazing stories of athletes who have used sport to lead their rehabilitation from the injuries and illnesses they suffered serving their countries.
Teams will come from the armed forces of nations that have served alongside each other with all athletes using the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country.
For competitors, spectators and viewers alike, the Invictus Games is sure to offer a memorable, inspiring and energising experience as the servicemen and women continue their inspirational journey of recovery.
Sport represents a major part of the rehabilitation process for injured service personnel and the competition for medals in London will be fierce.
The nine sports which comprise the 2014 Invictus Games are archery, athletics, wheelchair Basketball, road cycling, powerlifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming, and sitting volleyball, with strong British representation throughout.
Aside from the athletics, which will take place at the Lee Valley Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be the central hub of the games with all the sporting events and the two ceremonies taking place within its confines, with venues including London Aquatics Centre, Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley VeloPark & Here East.
Teams have been invited from a variety of nations across the world, including the United States, Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Georgia, Iraq, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, as well as the UK.
Organised with the support and backing of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence, the Invictus Games will all be about survival in the face of adversity and the strength of the human spirit, with the aim of sending out a positive message about life beyond disability.
The idea for the event first entered Prince Harry’s thoughts six years ago when he was serving with the British military in Helmond Province, Afghanistan, and on a plane returning to the UK with three fellow servicemen in induced comas.
It was cemented from a vision to a distinct reality when he attended the Warrior Games in the American city of Colorado in 2013. The Games, for injured US servicemen and women, began in 2010 and has become a hugely successful annual event.
In an interview with the BBC ahead of the inaugural staging of the Invictus Games, Prince Harry said: “It has been a long route to get here. In fact there have been times when we thought we’d never get to the finish line. But here we are.”
“This is about the power that sport has in rehabilitation. When I spoke to some of the injured guys I was completely convinced that this was something we should do – a multi-sport, international event.”
The name Invictus comes from the Latin for ‘unconquered’ and was chosen after a “brain-storming session” Harry had with his team. Invictus is also the name of a poem written by William Ernest Henley in 1875.
“The link with the poem seemed to fit and everyone loved it,” added Prince Harry. “The name itself has so much strength behind it and I hope we can live up to it.”
Cheer on over 400 wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women from 14 different nations, at venues made famous by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games from September 10-14 in the inaugural Invictus Games.
Follow extensive coverage of this unique sporting event across BBC TV, radio and online (full details below), or find out more information about the Games via its official website – invictusgames.org.
BBC Television will broadcast extensive coverage of the inaugural Invictus Games from iconic venues with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Wounded, injured and sick former service men and women from 14 countries compete across several sporting disciplines between September 10-14, with a mixture of daily highlights and live coverage across BBC One and BBC Two.
In addition to the sporting action, highlights of both the spectacular Opening Ceremony and Closing Concert will be shown, as well as an hour-long documentary telling the inspirational stories behind some of the competitors.
Jonathan Edwards will present the BBC’s live coverage and highlights shows across all four days of event itself on BBC One and BBC Two, with Matt Baker and Alex Jones hosting a special edition of The One Show covering the opening ceremony on Wednesday, while Clare Balding and Greg James present the finale to the games, the closing concert, on Sunday evening.
BBC commentary teams will be deployed for four of the seven sports at the games, with Steve Cram, Mike Costello and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson calling the athletics events, wheelchair rugby is led Eddie Butler and Steve Brown, while swimming commentary comes from Andy Jameson and Mark Woods.
Jonathan Legard and Martine Wright will be covering the sitting volleyball, Ronald McIntosh and Ade Adepitan will preside over the wheelchair basketball, while Sir Matthew Pinsent reports from the rowing and power lifting competitions taking place in the Here East venue.
BBC TV’s coverage begins on September 7 with Countdown to the Invictus Games: Meet the Warriors, a special documentary airing at 9.15pm on BBC Two, which follows the extraordinary and inspirational stories of a selection of athletes as they try to secure their place in the British team to compete against comrades from around the world.
Then on Wednesday, the Invictus Games begins with a special edition of The One Show at 7.00pm on BBC One, featuring live coverage of the uplifting Opening Ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The ceremony includes a fly past from the Red Arrows, bands from the Army, RAF and Royal Marines and, of course, the Competitors’ Parade featuring all 400 plus servicemen and women from the 14 nations taking part.
Marking the start of four days of sporting competition, the action kicks off on Thursday, September 8 with a special one-hour highlights show on BBC Two featuring the best of the action from the day’s sole sporting event, Track and Field, at Lee Valley Athletics Centre.
A further one-hour highlights show follows on BBC Two at 7.30pm on Friday evening which will round-up the day’s action from the Wheelchair Rugby at the Copper Box Arena, as well as coverage of the Archery.
At the weekend, BBC One will be broadcasting more than six hours of live coverage from the event, including the Wheelchair Basketball, Road Cycling and Indoor Rowing from 1.00pm on Saturday, September 13, followed by a evening highlights show on BBC Two.
Sunday’s live action from 1.15pm features the final day’s action from the Swimming at the iconic London Aquatics Centre, as well as Sitting Volleyball and Powerlifting.
In the evening, the BBC’s TV coverage concludes with highlights of the stunning star-studded Closing Concert, which features a headline set from Foo Fighters, as well as performances from Kaiser Chiefs, Ellie Goulding, Ryan Adams, The Vamps, Rizzle Kicks, James Blunt, Diversity and the Military Wives Choir.
Live streaming of the BBC’s live coverage and highlights programming can be found online via BBC iPlayer and app, with reports also on the BBC Sport website, while viewers can catch-up on each BBC One/BBC Two programme on iPlayer for up to 30 days after transmission.
On BBC Radio, a special one-hour programme will be broadcast on 5 live on Thursday, September 11 at 9.00pm, presented by Eleanor Oldroyd, with studio guests reflecting on the first day’s activity from the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, as well as discussing the incredible stories of several of the athletes involved.
A round up the latest games news and key moments will be covered daily in the Phil Williams Show from 10.30pm, also on BBC 5 live, plus regular updates across the weekend during 5 live Sport.
BBC Radio 4 will also have live reporting from the Invictus Games on its Saturday morning show Saturday Live with JP Devlin and Aasmah Mir.
Commenting on the BBC’s Invictus Games coverage, Guy Freeman, executive producer, BBC Entertainment and Events, said: “We’re honoured to be the official broadcaster of the Invictus Games and to be able to share the inspirational stories of the service men and women competing in this inaugural competition.
“The sporting events promise to be action-packed and showcase some fantastic skills and moments of endeavour. While the ceremonies look set to be two incredible and enjoyable celebrations, that will also serve as a suitable tribute to all those who have given so much as they serve their countries.”
Sir Keith Mills, chairman of the Invictus Games, added: “The Invictus Games promise to be a truly inspirational occasion and one not to miss.
“For the public it’s a unique chance to get behind those who have given so much but focus on what they can achieve, post-injury. The sporting action and atmosphere will be incredible and the BBC has unrivalled experience in bringing that into homes across the nation.
“We’re delighted to have them on board as the official broadcaster of the Invictus Games so that thousands more can share this memorable experience and show their support.”
For more information about the BBC’s coverage, visit bbc.co.uk/invictusgames.
.. . Sunday 7th September Countdown To The Invictus Games: Meet The Warriors 9.15pm-10.15pm BBC Two
Ahead of the start of the inaugural Invictus Games, cameras have been following some of the inspirational British servicemen and women who have overcome life changing injuries and illnesses in order to compete.
Alongside their personal stories, this one-hour documentary reveals what motivated Prince Harry to create the Games and why he thinks they are so important.
Wednesday 10th September The One Show Special: Invictus Games Opening Ceremony LIVE: 7.00pm-8.00pm BBC One (BBC Two in Scotland)
The One Show comes live from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for a special programme to broadcast the launch of Prince Harry’s first ever Invictus Games.
Matt Baker, Alex Jones and Clare Balding report on the spectacular Opening Ceremony, where highlights include a flypast from the Red Arrows and an exclusive performance of the Invictus Anthem penned by Coldplay.
The ceremony culminates in the Athletes’ Parade, where over 400 competing wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women from 13 nations are led into the park by detachments from the three services.
Thursday 11th September DAY 1: Athletics Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm BBC Two
Before the action begins on the Olympic Park, the Invictus Games gets underway on Thursday with the athletics events from the Lee Valley Stadium.
The British Armed Forces team captain, Dave Henson, will hope to get the team off to the best start in the men’s 200 metres, and GB Paralympian Derek Derenalagi will not only take part in the throwing events he contested at London 2012 but will also get his blades going in the sprint events.
Friday 12th September DAY 2: Wheelchair Rugby & Archery Highlights: 7.30pm-8.30pm BBC Two (9.30pm in Wales/Northern Ireland)
Day two of the Invictus Games sees the action move to the Olympic Park for the first of three team sports.
Always dramatic and aggressive, the wheelchair rugby promises an exciting day of competition, with the UK and USA tipped to contest the final.
The British team have a strong squad led by team captain Charlie Walker, who will be eager to get an early victory over team USA, and two nations have the largest squads at Invictus Games, so expect them to be battling to come out on top of the medal table.
There is also action from the archery competition, a sport which has attracted more entries than any other at the Invictus Games, where one of the strong hopefuls is Royal Marine and Military Cross recipient Paul Vice, who leads the challenge for Great Britain.
Saturday 13th September DAY 3: Wheelchair Basketball, Road Cycling & Indoor Rowing LIVE: 1.00pm-4.30pm BBC One Highlights: 9.00pm-10.00pm BBC Two
Road cycling is the major focus for the individual athletes on Saturday as they tackle a one-mile road course built around the outside of the Olympic velodrome.
As at the Olympics and Paralympics, cycling promises to be a strong sport for the British team with GB’s Steve Arnold and Joe Townsend expected to go head-to-head for gold in the handbike race, while in the roadbike race, Jaco van Gass will need to be at his very best as he takes on former world champion, Terry Byrne.
Royal Marine JJ Chalmers, who was seriously injured in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan is also expected to star for Britain in the recumbent cycle race.
There is also news from the indoor rowing competitions, while at the Copper Box Arena the second team sport of the Games takes place with the British wheelchair basketball team in action.
Army veteran Adam Nixon will be leading the home nation team, while some of the key players to watch out for are Chris Attis, Gareth Golightly and Lee Matthews, who know that the USA will be very strong opponents for the gold medal.
Sunday 14th September DAY 4: Sitting Volleyball, Powerlifting & Swimming LIVE: 1.15pm-4.15pm BBC One
The inaugural Invictus Games come to a close and after four days of action USA and Britain are expected to be fighting hard to come out on top of the medal table.
With more than twenty medals on offer at the Olympic Aquatic centre, the swimming is sure to be crucial in deciding who does end up as the leading nation at the Invictus Games.
Mike Goody is sure to be a popular figure at the pool, with the former senior aircraftman, injured in Afghanistan in 2008, using the sport as a central part of his rehabilitation.
He became the first amputee paramedic in the UK but has combined his job with his training and has high hopes of winning a medal on the final day.
The sitting volleyball reaches the knockout stages in The Copperbox Arena and the GB team expect to be in serious contention for gold. Earlier in the summer they won some notable victories at a warm up event in Texas.
Captain Tony Harris is typical of the athletes taking part in Invictus Games. He served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, before being wounded in an explosion in 2009.
Since then he has had between 20 and 30 operations but has not let that stop him from climbing 900 metre high peak Pen y Fan in Wales, taking part in the Dakar Rally and now representing Great Britain at Invictus Games.
There will also be highlights of Saturday evening’s final of the wheelchair basketball, where the USA as hot favourites to win.
Many of their team have competed against each other in previous events as part of the individual US services teams, but the Invictus Games is the first time they have combined and so they will be very hard to beat.
.Closing Concert LIVE: 8.00pm-10.15pm BBC Two
The BBC’s coverage of the inaugural Invictus Games concludes on Sunday night as Clare Balding and Greg James present the Closing Concert.
The star-studded line-up includes Foo Fighters, Kaiser Chiefs, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Rizzle Kicks, Ryan Adams, the Vamps, Military Wives Choirs and Diversity.
A spectacular finale to four days of sporting competition between wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women from nations across the world is guaranteed, with the concert also including medallion presentations to all the inspirational participants.