Sheffield gets set to host first UK Team Invictus Games trials and royal visit  

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with wheelchair basketball players at the launch of  the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with wheelchair basketball players at the launch of the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Thousands of people including Prince Harry are expected to come to Sheffield for the first ever Team UK Invictus Games trials this summer. 

The event for wounded, injured and sick veterans will act as qualifying trials for next year’s games which will be held in The Hague, Netherlands. 

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with wheelchair basketball players (John Burbridge, Paul Nichol, Scott McNice and Darren Young) at the launch of  the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with wheelchair basketball players (John Burbridge, Paul Nichol, Scott McNice and Darren Young) at the launch of the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

It was launched in the Winter Gardens with a visit from Gavin Williamson, defence secretary, Invictus athletes and members of Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. 

Athletes from across the country will come to battle it out in a number of sports including wheelchair basketball, powerlifting, swimming and sitting volleyball. Various spots around Sheffield will be used 22 – 26 July. 

Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield City Council cabinet member for culture, said they are also expecting at least 2,000 people to visit, including Prince Harry, who founded the games in 2014.

She said: “It’s really important for Sheffield. The fact that we’ve been chosen to have these trials shows what a great city we are for sporting facilities but also that we can put on world-class events like this. There will also be a really big economic benefit.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson with wheelchair basketball players at the launch of  the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson with wheelchair basketball players at the launch of the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

“When the team came up from London to look at Sheffield they were very impressed by what we had to offer and how we could put on such an event, which is why we’ve been chosen. We are absolutely thrilled by it.” 

At the launch, athletes gave a demonstration of wheelchair basketball. Rachel Williamson, who became paralysed in her left arm after a rugby injury, competed in the previous games in Sydney and will also be battling it out at the trials in the summer.

She said: “It’s helped me find myself again, I was miserable for so long and felt like a failure but it’s turned it all around. Now I can try and inspire others and I’ve got a smile on my face.  

“Sheffield is awesome, it’s also more central than London so hopefully we can spread the word a bit more to all corners of the country. Whatever state of health you’re in, come and have a look and hopefully you’ll be inspired."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with past competitors at the launch of  the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson chats with past competitors at the launch of the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Defence secretary Mr Williamson said: “As a Yorkshireman born and bred I am incredibly proud that Sheffield has opened its arms to the Invictus Games and is playing this role.

“I know this city will give the friendliest welcome to all those who take part and thank you to all those who have put so much in already and to all those competitors I wish you well for July.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the launch of  the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the launch of the 2019 UK Invictus Games Trials which are to be held in Sheffield in July. Picture Scott Merrylees