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Prince Harry closes Invictus Games

Press AssociationPress Association 12/05/2016

Prince Harry has brought the Invictus Games to a close, describing the tournament as not about winning medals but about "watching lives change in front of you".

After five days of sporting action that has seen injured veterans and military from across the globe push themselves to the limit, Harry thanked the spectators for making "unbelievable memories" for the competitors.

The moment of the games came on Wednesday when US Army Sergeant Elizabeth Marks asked the Prince to take a gold medal she had won in the pool to Cambridge's Papworth Hospital which saved her life on the eve of her competing in the London Invictus Games.

Hosts America staged the event in Orlando, Florida, and had the largest gold medal haul but Harry, the driving force behind the Paralympic-style games, said the event was about the families and athletes sharing experiences.

More than 500 sportsmen and women from 14 countries competed in 10 sports and Harry was in the stands to watch the last final, where the UK wheelchair basketball team lost heavily to the US 48-16.

But the gold medal contest was played in a celebratory atmosphere with the crowds waving flags, chanting and screaming encouragement at the players, many of whom had missing limbs.

At the end of the contest Harry said: "Thank you so much to everybody here, for making unbelievable memories for every single competitor.

"Fair enough USA, I give it to you, it's only right in your home games you end up taking most of the golds, but let me remind you, this has never been about the medals as you know.

"This is about bringing amazing people together, sharing experiences and literally watching lives change in front of you in this arena, outside in the pool, wherever it is.

"And you've witnessed it and we're the lucky ones to have witnessed it together."

Harry presented the UK players with their silver medals, giving each one a hug, and also greeted the third place team Denmark and the US winners, who received their medals from Dr Jill Biden, wife of the US vice president Joe Biden.

The celebrations saw confetti blown into the air filling the arena with paper and covering Harry, the spectators and the players.

The final moment of the games will be the closing ceremony which will feature Hollywood star Morgan Freeman, who also played a role in the opening ceremony, and acts including hip hop star Flo Rida, singer Rachel Platten and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.

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