Invictus Games prelims sees UK personnel through to semis

The Invictus Games for wounded, sick and injured personnel has begun today following the opening ceremony last night.

Since the competitors arrived in Orlando they have been taking part in trials and prelims in their respective sports, with the semi-finals and finals now on until the closing ceremony on Thursday.

Family and friends also arrived on Friday, giving the athletes a boost during the early stages and cheering them on before the main crowds arrive.

Vice Captain of Team Sports Lieutenant Kirsty Wallace, Royal Navy, is taking part in wheelchair basketball, swimming, wheelchair racing and the handbike.

You see people from across the world who are making huge personal journeys and it’s about bringing them together in a sporting arena to have fun but also to have that little bit of competitive spirit.

Lieutenant Kirsty Wallace RN

In the basketball prelims the UK team beat New Zealand and the Netherlands and will face Denmark in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Kirsty said: “Both sides played really well in the prelims – we are hoping we can beat the US to take gold though, that is our goal.

“Competing here at the Invictus Games is such a mixing pot of emotions, you see people from across the world who are making huge personal journeys and it’s about bringing them together in a sporting arena to have fun but also to have that little bit of competitive spirit.

“It’s just a fantastic opportunity and we are really looking forward to the games beginning.”

Wheelchair tennis saw Royal Marine Fergus Hurst crash out with partner Luke Sinnott (ex-Army) against New Zealand with a final score of 6:1.

He will be taking part in shotput and swimming where he came second in the 50m men’s freestyle with a time of 27.54, closely behind fellow Brit Michael Goody (ex-RAF) who was just 29 seconds ahead.

The swimming heats took place in the Olympic-sized swimming pool constructed specifically for the games. The months of hard training, planning and preparation paid off for the UK team with the vast majority of the swimmers making it through to the finals.

Team UK Captain David Wiseman – an ex-Army Captain - won the 100M and second heat of the 50M freestyle in a time of 1.01.90 and 27.67seconds respectively. The 50M breaststroke also saw four UK swimmers occupying the top five places  - Luke Reeson, Mike Goody, Cowan Botha and Rob Cromey-Hawke).

The women’s heats were equally impressive for the UK, with Fiona Bullen winning her freestyle race and scoring a personal best time of 34.76seconds in the 50M. In the 100M backstroke, Catherine Nightingale qualified first, followed closely by Zoe Williams, another strong showing for the UK team.

“We did really well in the team sports yesterday – the basketball and rugby - and that gave all of the guys a definite boost heading into the swimming heats,” said David.

“Morale was high and the performances certainly reflected that. I am not ashamed to say I was nervous this morning but it feels really good to get competition underway.

“I certainly believe in the power of sport as a tool for recovery and that is proving to be the case here in Orlando.

“Our time so far has been amazing and we are all so excited about what the remainder of the Games will bring.”

The games are all taking place the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney in Orlando. They are the brainchild of Prince Harry who has spent the past week at the trials, and are the second to take place in the last two years.