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Prince Harry to Invictus Paralympians: 'Cherish This Moment as You Get to Serve Your Country Again'

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Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS/Getty

Prince Harry sent a special message to a group of athletes close to his heart as they prepare to take part in the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Praising the service members who are set to compete again following his own Invictus Games for wounded warriors, he urged them on Monday, “Cherish this moment as you get to serve your country again.”

There are 11 athletes from five nations who competed in the 2014 or 2016 Invictus Games and are now representing their countries in seven different sports this month in Brazil. Among them is American Elizabeth Marks, who donated her winner’s medal from the Games in Orlando to the U.K. hospital that helped save her.

And then there is Dave Henson, who captained the British team in the inaugural Invictus Games in 2012 and then ran a winning race in the Orlando contest, bringing Harry to as “world class.”

Harry, who is Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation (which is planning another games in Toronto next year), said in a statement, “I can’t think of a better example of showing how important sport can be for recovery. I know they’ll compete with the same Invictus spirit that we saw in London and Orlando – motivated not just by winning, but by pushing their bodies and minds to the absolute limit to prove to the world there is life beyond injury.

“They will lift everyone around them, and whether you’re watching in Rio or on TV around the world, they will inspire you. I’m incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved and will be cheering on every single competitor during the Games.”

Harry added, “To those Invictus Games competitors representing your five nations, all I have to say to you is what an incredible achievement – well done for your selection. You have trained harder than ever, but the fight to the finish line won’t be easy. You all know this better than anyone. Cherish this moment as you get to serve your country again. Absorb the applause and atmosphere for inspiring millions, but most importantly – have fun!”

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The royal also made a personal donation to the #filltheseats campaign to get children in Rio to attend the Paralympuc Games.

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“It is a great idea to open up the events to the community while also helping to build a sense of excitement in the stadiums for these amazing competitors,” a Kensington Palace spokeswoman said. “Prince Harry is following closely the Invictus Games champions who are competing in Rio and this is one way he is lending support to their efforts.”

The full list of the Invictus Games alumni who have been selected are:

U.S.: Elizabeth Marks (swimming), Jennifer Schuble (cycling) and Shawn Cheshire (cycling); Australia: Curtis McGrath (para-canoe); Canada: Christine Gauthier (para-canoe); U.K.: Dave Henson (athletics), Micky Yule (powerlifting), Joe Townsend (para-triathlon), Mikey Hall (archery) and Nick Beighton (para-canoe); Italy: Monica Contraffatto (athletics).

The Toronto Invictus Games will take place in September next year.