0368/Royalty

Prince Harry cheers on competitors at the Invictus Games

Prince Harry got back to business at the Invictus Games today, dedicating his day to cheering on to competitors after making his public debut with girlfriend Meghan Markle. The Prince spent the morning giving pep talks to athletes behind the scenes a1at the cycling event, telling them they were tougher than him for completing the gruelling course in the Toronto heat. Modestly waving away shouted “thank yous” from the crowd, he told cyclists: “You’re all amazing. This is what it’s all about. “The atmosphere has been incredible all week. For me, it’s always going to be about the atmosphere. “Everyone’s really excited, they’re all here for you.” Posing for dozens of photographs with every athlete who asked him, he said he was in awe of their stamina in the 27C heat. “Four miles, up and down,” he told one. “I just couldn’t deal with it.” Among the competitors he met was Veteran Royal Navy Aircraft Engineer Jamie Weller, who was training on a stationary bike in the team ten and a large central blind spot in both eyes. Marvelling at his adapted mobile phone, which has a special voice app to describe his location, the Prince insisted on turning the a2tables to stage an impromptu photoshoot. After days of posing for the world’s media, the Prince revelled in instructing Mr Weller to lean into his bike as he snapped away on the phone’s camera. He went on to catch up with old friends including Invictus superstars Jaco van Gass and RAF pilot Nathan Jones, former medal winners who are back this year. The Prince made his way around a large tent, surrounded by athletes of all nations preparing for their next race. Quizzing other competitors about whether it was their first Games and how they had found it so far, he consistently deflected attention from himself back to the sportsmen and women. Yesterday, photographs of the Prince and his girlfriend Meghan Markle were seen around the world, as they made an unexpected appearance at the wheelchair tennis. The Prince, however, appeared keen to focus attention back on the Games themselves, attending the cycling solo as an enthusiastic spectator. He will later attend the golf and indoor rowing as well as a reception for Invictus competitors and family. In an interview with the BBC, he said: “Invictus Games when it comes around once a year is my fix just as much as anyone else’s. “Being here with all the competitors, being here with friends and families, meeting new faces and seeing some of the old faces as well – not old as in age but the old-timers – is amazing. “I get a buzz out of it, everybody gets a buzz out of it. “You’ve got all of these civvies walking around sucking up the atmosphere and hopefully they can walk away and it means something to them as well.” He added: “It’s an amazing team to be proud of, so many new faces, new stories, some fantastic experiences for them to have going forward. “Its a joy for me to constantly meet so many new people and friends and family.”

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