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Prince Harry tries out wheelchair curling in Vancouver ahead of the Invictus Games


The Invictus Games in British Columbia set for next year is already offering life-changing experiences, including for one athlete who had never seen snow, Prince Harry told a crowd in a Vancouver curling rink on Friday.

“The smiles on the faces that I've seen over the last few days, it proves why we do what we do,” he said.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have been in Whistler and Vancouver this week taking part in training camps leading up to the 2025 Invictus Games to be hosted in the province.

“Imagine what it's gonna be like when friends and family get in, get in a coach, get on a bus and head up to Whistler and get to spend hours or the whole day up in that beautiful mountain air,” he said. “It is one of the most incredible things.”

While in Whistler, the prince learned to sit-ski and did two runs headfirst down a bobsled track on a tiny skeleton sled reaching 99 kilometres an hour, a sport he said should “be compulsory” for everyone.

On Friday, he and Canadian singer Michael Buble sat in wheelchairs and used sticks to toss rocks across a curling rink. The pair laughed together and joked with competitors on the ice as they practised their game.

The 2025 Games will be the first time winter sports will be included.

The prince singled out Peacemaker Azuegbulam, a member of the Nigerian Invictus team who came to Whistler for the training camps, saying the man would have stayed on the mountain if he could have.

“But these last few days have been very, very special because it's been our first opportunity to have some friends, some family and come competitors here with the coaches. (And) as well to be able to try out, in some instances, for the first time being on snow.”

The prince noted that it's been 10 years since the first Invictus Games. He founded the Games in 2014 for injured and sick service personnel and veterans after serving in Afghanistan.

Harry told the crowd in Vancouver that the last few days in training camps have been “very, very special,” and he can only imagine what it will be like when 500 athletes come to the province next year.

“Thank you for the hospitality, not just now, but for 2025 as well, when there will be a lot more of us.”

Rasmus Penno is an Invictus Games athlete and a bilateral leg amputee from Estonia who previously competed in the 2018 Games in Australia in rowing.

He said taking part in the Games has been “awesome” and has allowed him to connect with other military service personnel who have had similar life experiences.

Penno, who was in Canada and trying snow sports for the first time, said he plans to take part in nordic sit-skiing and perhaps alpine skiing events next year.

He said he met and skied with Prince Harry on Wednesday, and that the Duke and Duchess had asked him about his training.

“They support us more than anybody knows,” Penno said in an interview Thursday. “They are very kind people and they support us to try new sports like I did yesterday and the day before that. It was really nice to meet them.”

Competitors from 23 nations will take part in next year's Games to be held from Feb. 6 to 17.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2024. Top Stories

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