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Prince Harry Joins Wounded Veterans at Tryouts for His Paralympic-Style Games: "It's Going to Be Epic"

Prince Harry Joins Wounded Veterans at Tryouts for His Paralympic-Style Games: "It's Going to Be Epic"
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Let the games begin!

Prince Harry cheered on wounded veterans on Friday as they competed for a spot on the U.K.'s Invictus Games team.

The prince, 31, spent the morning in the blustery playing fields of the University of Bath, about 115 miles west of London, supporting his wounded and injured heroes as they tried out to be a part of his Paralympic-style Invictus Games, which will take place in Orlando in May.

And he told them there was warmer weather waiting for them when they head west in the spring.

"We have taken it to a whole new level by going to a different country, to Orlando, where the weather is much nicer. That's why most of you are here, either that or you've got an obsession with Disneyland. And looking at some you, that's probably the case," he said to the laughing crowd.

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"The excitement is building not just here, but also across the pond," he continued. "You will be unbelievably amazed by the amount of support there is out there for you.

"It's not necessarily about selection, but it's about the whole piece. The way it's fixing you – whether it's mental or physical – to be able to be in this process. That's what it's all about for us, what it always has been about. The chance to bring you all together so you share some stories and some banter and get yourself into a bit of trouble."

He then asked the group to be ambassadors for what he called the "Invictus Spirit."

The "Invictus Spirit," he said, is "about selfless commitment, about heroic activities that a lot of you have been in in some shape or form."

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And, in his unscripted address, he took a moment to offer his own tribute to explorer Henry Worsley, who died while trying to cross Antarctica – an expedition that was raising money for the Endeavour Fund that backs the games.

He called former Army officer Worsley, who died of organ failure after being airlifted to Chile, the "definition of selfless commitment."

The prince continued, "He put his life on the line. This person was raising funds for the Endeavour Fund so people like you can do amazing things and rediscover yourselves. Thanks to him, we have huge options for more and more people."

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He concluded, "Guys, just look forward to it. It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be epic. I'll be out there, but the most important thing is enjoy it, make the most of it and spread the word and appreciate how much support there is out there."

Shortly before he spoke, the competitors and organizers watched a short video summing up the highlights of the last games. When Harry appeared on screen introducing it one of the audience joked, "Who's that?" The prince joined in the laughter.

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Friday's event marks the first day of the U.K. team trials and the marker for 100 days until the big games begin on May 8.

The three-day trials are being run by the veterans charity Help for Heroes with support from the government's Ministry of Defense and The Royal British Legion.

Hopefuls are taking part in 10 sports: athletics; archery; wheelchair basketball; road cycling; powerlifting; indoor rowing; wheelchair rugby; swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair tennis.

The British team members are being selected not just on ability and commitment to training, but on the benefit the games will give them as part of their recovery, organizers say.

Many competitors from last year's Invictus Games were also in attendance.

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Dave Henson, who was the captain of the British team in the inaugural games in 2014, says he is hoping to be selected again this year. The 200m sprinter tells People, "I'd love to be in Orlando. The experience is phenomenal, the people are phenomenal and it's an inspiring event to be at.

"I will be there regardless of whether I'm on the team because I want to see these people compete. If I'm on the team it's a massive bonus. I'm looking forward to Orlando," he says.

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Henson, who lost both his legs when an IED exploded in Afghanistan in 2011, praised Prince Harry for his efforts.

"For the competitors, it's awesome to see someone of his standing fighting in their corner and working so hard to give them opportunities which we so desperately need. It's really good for us to see that," Henson, 31, says.

Harry is expected to meet some of the hopefuls and make a speech to wish them well and he will also catch a warm-up of the wheelchair tennis trials that will take place later in the day.

Tickets for the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will go on sale in February. However, fans can now reserve their tickets here.

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This article originally appeared on People. For more stories like this, visit people.com.

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