Prince Harry’s heartbreak as more Invictus Games members killed in Ukraine war

Prince Harry’s heartbreak as more Invictus Games members killed in Ukraine war

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The Invictus Games Foundation said on Friday that three further members of its community have been killed in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military personnel and veterans from across the globe, by giving them the challenge of competing in sporting events similar to the Paralympics.

The foundation said Dmytro Oliynyk and Vladimir Motelchuk both died in rocket attacks on Mykolaiv on March 29.

Sergey Smilin died in service on March 18.

It comes after the foundation announced that former trialist Serhii Karaivan died fighting on March 13.

The foundation said in a statement on its website: “Following the news of Serhii Karajvan on March 13, the Invictus Games Foundation is extremely saddened to learn of the deaths of three further members of the Invictus community in Ukraine.

invictus games

Dmytro Oliynyk, Sergey Smilin and Vladimir Motelchuk (Image: INVICTUS GAMES FOUNDATION)

“Dmytro Oliynyk and Vladimir Motelchuk both died in rocket attacks on Mykolaiv on March 29. Sergey Smilin died in service on March 18, he was buried March 31.

“Our thoughts are with their families, teammates and the wider community.

“All were Warrior Games trialists and competitors, and whilst they were not preparing for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, they were all extremely active in the international Invictus community on the We Are Invictus platform, competing in events over the past year including the virtual London Marathon, and online Rowing championships.

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“We encourage our community to continue to look out for one another online, as sad news continues to emerge, as many will have had the opportunity to compete alongside Team Ukraine virtually or in previous Invictus Games.”

The foundation previously said it was aware of many Ukrainian Invictus competitors – injured in the conflict with Russia which began in 2014 – and staff and team management signing up to serve again.

When the death of Mr Karaivan’s was confirmed last month, Oksana Horbach, manager for the Ukrainian Invictus Games team, said: “It was tough to learn about Serhii’s death as the fighting continues.

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Harry was inspired to launch the Invictus Games following a trip to the Warrior Games in Colorado (Image: GETTY)

“When we win, we will celebrate his life, talk about him, and his sense of humour, professionalism, patriotism and sports endeavours.

“And we will hug and cry and laugh because the memories of him bring joy and happiness. Please do not think of him as a martyr, he would not like it.

“Think of him as a celebrated Invictus Games community member, hero and defender of Ukrainian people.”

The Duke of Sussex was inspired to launch the Invictus Games following a trip to the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013 where he saw first hand how sport helped inspire recovery and support rehabilitation of wounded troops.

The inaugural competition took place in London in 2014 with 300 competitors from 13 countries taking part.

Since then, Invictus Games have been staged in Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017 and Sydney in 2018.

The upcoming event, delayed because of the pandemic, will go ahead in The Hague this month.

Harry, who is living in California, is due to attend the competition from April 16-22.

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