It has often been said that there is no such word as ‘can’t’. Yet ‘can’t’ is one of the commonest phrases encountered by anyone feeling fearful of change. This weekend my sons and I attended the inaugural Invictus Games in London. What a remarkable experience it was, and one that demonstrated what is possible by simply saying ‘I can’.
Invictus is the perfect title for an event designed to inspire wounded service men and women, with broken bodies, minds or spirits, that there is life after darkness and hope beyond despair. Taken from a seminal poem by William Ernest Henley, Invictus means ‘unconquered’. What a privilege it was to support international teams in their extraordinary efforts to conquer physical, mental and emotional wounds. We witnessed true teamwork, leadership and determination in action. This courageous energy was palpable and carried competitors, and spectators to a higher plane of joy and faith in the power of the human spirit.
Yet again the unifying power of sporting endeavour served to inspire and energise everyone who participated in the event, or who viewed it from afar. In a world often stilted by negative and alarming news, this was a breath of fresh air.
Watching the Wheelchair Basketball heats was incredible. The competitors created an electrifying atmosphere and demonstrated that it is possible to be simultaneously competitive and generous to your opponents. Travelling at great speed, whilst zipping and weaving amongst other players, some competitors tipped out of their chairs. In a deft movement, team mates from both sides would buzz around the fallen player and lever them back into an upright position in just seconds, with all the efficiency of a Formula 1 pit crew!
If your spirits are in need of a pick-me-up, go check out some of the coverage of the Games, you cannot fail to be inspired. And if you remember one thing only from the impact of this weekend’s events, recite to yourself the closing stanza of Henley’s poem:
“I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”