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'Be inspired' call as Harry opens games

Do Not UseDo Not Use 9/05/2016
Prince Harry posing with children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games © Getty Images Prince Harry posing with children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games

Prince Harry says he hopes the Invictus Games will "inspire people" affected by mental illness to seek help.

Michelle Obama and Prince Harry pose with children of servicemen and women competing in the Invictus Games: Michelle Obama and Prince Harry posed for photos with the children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony © Getty Images Michelle Obama and Prince Harry posed for photos with the children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony

The prince, who founded the games for injured veterans, said at the opening ceremony in Florida that it was "not just physical injuries that our Invictus competitors have overcome".

The US Marine Corps silent drill team also performed © AP The US Marine Corps silent drill team also performed

This is the second time the games have been run, after London in 2014.

Crowds watching the Invictus Games opening ceremony: More than 500 athletes from 14 countries will compete © AP More than 500 athletes from 14 countries will compete

More than 500 athletes from 14 countries will compete in sports including athletics, rugby and tennis.

Thousands of people attended the lively opening ceremony which included speeches from US First Lady Michelle Obama, Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and former US President George W Bush. There were also performances by British singer James Blunt and the soprano Laura Wright.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool, who was at the ceremony, said it was "at some times a very emotional event with injured veterans telling their stories" and Prince Harry describing his own experience of 10 years in the British Army.

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Prince Harry told spectators: "It is not just physical injuries that our Invictus competitors have overcome.

"Every single one of them will have confronted tremendous emotional and mental challenges. When we give a standing ovation to the competitor with the missing limbs, let's also cheer our hearts out for the man who overcame anxiety so severe he couldn't leave his house.

"Let's cheer for the woman who fought through post-traumatic stress and let's celebrate the soldier who was brave enough to get help for his depression."

He added: "To those of you watching at home and who are suffering from mental illness in silence - whether a veteran or a civilian, a mum or a dad, a teenager or a grandparent - I hope you see the bravery of our Invictus champions who have confronted invisible injuries, and I hope you are inspired to ask for the help that you need."

In an interview with the BBC the prince described the Games as a popular cause to benefit "people who had put their lives on the line".

British cycling competitor Craig Preece, who suffered injuries to both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, said he was looking forward to being able "to showcase to the world what we can still do".

The Paralympic-style tournament will feature track and field athletics, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, tennis and basketball as well as cycling, swimming, archery and triathlon.

Heats and preliminary rounds were held over the weekend. The finals schedule begins on Monday with powerlifting from 08:00 local time (13:00 BST) followed by rowing at 13:30 (18:30 BST) and archery 19:00 (midnight BST).

Live coverage, behind-the-scenes action and commentary will also be featured on the BBC Sport website.

Coverage of day one of the Games including highlights of the opening ceremony will be broadcast on BBC One at 19:30 and 20:30 BST each day.

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