Team UK has arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany ahead of this year’s Invictus Games, which is due to start on Sunday.
Made up of 59 veterans and serving military personnel, Team UK departed from Birmingham Airport this afternoon (Thursday 7 September) on a flight provided by AirTanker, accompanied by team staff, family and friends.
The team’s departure follows the culmination of months of training at sports camps around the UK, developing mental and physical resilience in the process.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“As the Invictus Games kicks off in Dusseldorf, we are reminded of the resilience and determination of our wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel. The Games enables them to continue their recovery while benefitting from the team spirit and togetherness of the Armed Forces community.
“The sense of unity, commitment and resilience demonstrated by Team UK inspires us all, and I wish them the best of luck on their Invictus Games journey.”
Nine members of Team UK are currently still serving within the UK Armed Forces, combining rehabilitation with roles that continue to uphold the safety and security of the UK.
Through military medical teams, Defence Recovery Centres and partnerships with military charities, service personnel are equipped with individual recovery plans and are given access to all of the key services and resources they need to either help them return to duty or make a smooth transition to civilian life.
Louise Assioun, the Royal British Legion’s Team UK Manager said:
“When people leave service, especially when that decision is forced upon them due to injury or illness, the camaraderie is one of the biggest losses.
“Having the opportunity to be part of a team again, representing their country and being around others who are all aiming to be the best they can be within their own recovery journey is what makes Team UK’s journey to the Invictus Games so unique and why the Royal British Legion, in partnership with the MOD, is proud to support them every step of the way.”
For all competitors, sport has been proven to help with their recovery programme and to build physical and mental resilience, with many of the team achieving goals they thought unattainable at the start of the Invictus journey.
The role of their family and friends has also been instrumental in the recovery journey, with many attending the Invictus Games to cheer their loved ones on along the way.
CEO of Birmingham Airport Nick Barton said:
“We’re delighted to be Team UK’s departure airport for its flight to Dusseldorf for the Invictus Games.
“We wish the team huge success and look forward to welcoming them back, after the games, with their medals.”
AirTanker CEO Mark Alexander said:
“AirTanker is incredibly proud to contribute and fly Team UK and their families from the UK to Dusseldorf to compete in the Invictus Games 2023.
“It is truly inspiring to see such courageous individuals overcome their challenges and change lives in the process. Flying Team UK to the Invictus Games is just one step in their inspiring journey, and we’re honoured to have been part of it. We wish all competitors the very best in the Games, and in their continuing recovery and rehabilitation.”
This year’s Games will see 550 competitors from across 21 countries come together to compete across 10 sports, including countries like the UK, Ukraine and the USA.
Team UK Captain and Royal Navy submarine officer Lieutenant Commander James Rogers said:
“Whether a veteran or still serving, we are one team heading into the Games and I am immensely proud of how much everyone has achieved in this process. It has brought with it a sense of camaraderie and excitement, as well as noticeable physical and mental health benefits.”
The Invictus Games will take place 9-16 September 2023 at the Merkur-Spiel Arena, Dusseldorf and will be the sixth iteration of the event, following the first event in London in 2014.
The last Invictus Games took place in The Hague, The Netherlands last year after a two-year hiatus following the pandemic.
The Invictus Games aims to use the power of sport to inspire the recovery process and support rehabilitation.