‘I have never been prouder of Sheffield’ – Games showed city at its best, says Council chief
Sheffield has been told it should be ‘really proud of itself’ after hosting the first ever Invictus UK Trials.
The trials, which started on Monday and ended on Friday, saw 450 wounded and injured ex-servicemen and women compete for the right to represent the UK in the international Invictus Games in the Netherlands next year, competing in nine sports including archery, athletics, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair rugby.
The man responsible for putting on the trials as well as a host of other events in Sheffield this summer, Sheffield Council’s major events manager Gary Clifton, said the games had been ‘a real success’.
He said: “It has been pretty phenomenal. It has taken all of us by surprise but in a very good way.”
“There is the human interest side of it of course but it has been a great spectacle as well. Sheffield people have fully supported it and had a great time.”
He said the exact numbers were yet to be finalised but it is thought between two and three thousand people attended events over the five days.
“It has been economically very good for the city and has had a great media profile with the BBC covering it on their live channels. And the royal visit was the icing on the cake.”
Because it is the first time the trials have ever been held, Gary said the event had been a learning curve for all the partners including the Ministry of Defence, Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.
And he was also full of praise for the organisations in Sheffield which helped make it such a success including the Council, Sheffield International Venues, South Yorkshire Police, Supertram and Amey.
“It has been a real ‘Team Sheffield’ effort,” he said.
“And it shows what the city can do when it puts its attention to something. All the competitors are full of praise at the love and belief shown in them. They were really bowled over.
“Hopefully we will be considered if they want to continue with the trials because I would like to think we have done a very good job.
“With Cliffhanger, HSBC Ride Sheffield, Tramlines and Bassfest we have had a heavy few months and the city should be very proud of itself at the moment.”
Gary said stories like the two soldiers who were reunited this week after serving together in Helmand province and a family who said the games had ‘given them their daddy back’ epitomised the Invictus ethos.
“Those stories are why we are doing this,” he said.
“It is pretty immense and you can’t put a price on it. I am as proud of the city as I have ever been.”
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure said: “When we first began talks with the Invictus Board nine months ago we knew it would be a very special competition to bring to the city. I don’t think we could have anticipated just how amazing it would be as we’ve witnessed all week the inspiring efforts of all the competitors, plus artists and performers in the cultural activities alongside.
“On behalf of Sheffield, we are extremely proud and honoured to have played such a huge role in the Trials and have been greatly humbled by the courage, determination and passion of every competitor and their families and friends.
“We have been privileged to watch nail-biting sport, inspirational art, powerful theatre and simply seeing all our visitors enjoying the city. It has been a truly memorable week and I hope everyone who has taken part has felt at home in Sheffield. I wish them all the very best as they continue to their recovery journey.”