Rapturous applause greeted the families and friends of the athletes as they entered the Champions Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for the Invictus Games 2016 closing ceremony.
Athletes from every nation who took part in the Games then entered on to the main Invictus stage and Prince Harry presented them with a commemorative medallion to acknowledge their participation in the 2016 event.
A total of 108 athletes made up the final UK team and members of the UK team participated in all ten sports that featured in the Games. The team was praised for demonstrating the Invictus spirit by loaning eight of their wheelchairs to athletes from other countries so they could take part in wheelchair basketball matches.
The medal tally for the UK reached 131 and the UK’s medals table can be found here.
The six greatest moments of the Orlando Games were picked out in a video montage, which included the UK’s Micky Yule winning the gold in powerlifting, US swimmer Sergeant Elizabeth Marks donating her medal to the staff of Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire and Jordanian athlete Ulfat Al-Zwiri’s determination to finish the 100 metres dash.
Performances followed from Jordan Smith, who won the American version of The Voice, Phillip Phillips, who won season 11 of the American Idol series and Rachel Platten, who wrote the inspirational “Fight Song” kept the stadium audience entertained. The song has become the anthem of the 2016 Games.
They were complimented by sets from Vetted, a group comprised of US veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and American country group Rascal Flatts paved the way for ceremony music headliner Flo Rida to take the stage, where he performed a selection of his greatest hits for the appreciative audience.
US athlete Sarah Rudder won the Jaguar award for the competitor who had achieved outstanding performance during the Games and the Georgian sitting volleyball team won the Landrover award for showing determination and grit in getting to the Games – and then going on to win a medal.
Moving speeches from the Second Lady of the United States, Dr Jill Biden, and from the US team captain Will Reynolds brought more applause from the audience.
Dr Biden said:
For the past four days the world has watched as some of the finest athletes and warriors carried their country’s flag in competitions against others who truly know the meaning of duty and sacrifice.
It has been a truly humbling experience to be part of the Invictus Games.
Sir Keith Mills GBE, chairman of the Invictus Games Foundation, formally closed the Orlando Games and initiated the handover to Toronto as the next city to host the event next year.
The Invictus flag was lowered and the US team captain handed it over to Canadian team captain Bruno Guevremont, while the Canadian National Anthem played.
The pair were joined by Joint Service Color Guard to the United States Special Operations Command and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Prince Harry rounded off the evening and concluded the 2016 Orlando Invictus Games.
The competition has been fierce with performances of the highest international standard across a number of events.
What has inspired me is the courage to make it to the start line, to make it the field or to dive into the pool, motivated by the goal of giving your all – medal or no medal.
You showed your families, your friends and yourselves just how far you’ve come, regardless of the result.
A spectacular fireworks display orchestrated by Disney completed the ceremony programme with many who attended the 2016 event vowing to meet again at the Toronto Games in September 2017.