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Prince Harry wraps up B.C. visit, promises ‘epic week’ for next year’s Invictus Games

Click to play video: 'Prince Harry brings star power to Vancouver Invictus Games training camp'
Prince Harry brings star power to Vancouver Invictus Games training camp
RELATED: Canadian crooner Michael Bublé joined the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Hillcrest Park in Vancouver Friday to mark one year until the first-ever winter Invictus Games come to British Columbia – Feb 16, 2024

Prince Harry told attendees, who gathered to mark the end of his three-day trip to British Columbia, that next year’s Invictus Games in the province will be about more than athletes winning medals.

The Duke of Sussex spoke to about 200 people, including athletes, at a dinner in Vancouver on Friday, which he attended with his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

The pair spent time earlier in the week at training camps leading up to the 2025 Games planned for Vancouver and Whistler.

“Invictus is not necessarily about winning a medal, but about the bonds that are built between nations; about the shared journey of recovery that competitors and their families are a part of,” the prince said at the dinner.

“Tonight, we take one big step on that journey and in less than 365 days, we welcome the world to join us once again for another epic week.”

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Prince Harry founded the Games for wounded, injured or sick service personnel and veterans, about a decade ago and said that they “provide a platform for us to showcase your abilities, to inspire the world, and honour the sacrifices of those we have lost.”

He said “passion, commitment, and spirit” led to British Columbia hosting the first-ever winter-hybrid Games in 2025, including first-time sports sit-skiing, sit-snowboarding, curling, biathlon “and, of course, skeleton.”

Click to play video: 'Prince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Whistler to mark 1 year before Invictus Games'
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Whistler to mark 1 year before Invictus Games

Earlier in the week, the prince did two runs headfirst down an icy track on a tiny skeleton sled, reaching 99 kilometres an hour.

At Friday’s dinner, Canadian singer Michael Bublé performed a song he wrote in collaboration with fellow Canadian Paul Anka using the tune of the classic “My Way,” but changing the lyrics to reference both the prince and the Games.

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Re-written lyrics included: “Who knew/ dreams can come true/ when life tells you/ you’re far from finished” and “Nothing tames/ Invictus Games/ you play them your way.”

Bublé also referred to King Charles, who recently announced he had been diagnosed with cancer, by including the line “Our healing wishes for your dad” in the rewritten song.

On Friday night, the Duchess wore an olive green dress by Canadian designer Greta Constantine.

The couple were presented with woven blankets, as gifts for their children, by Johnna Sparrow, a member of the Musqueam Nation and an Indigenous adviser for the Games.

Earlier in the day, Prince Harry and Bublé sat in wheelchairs and used sticks to toss rocks across a curling rink. The pair laughed together and joked with competitors on the ice as they practised their game.

The prince singled out Peacemaker Azuegbulam, a member of the Nigerian Invictus team who came to Whistler for the training camps, saying the man would have stayed on the mountain if he could have.

“But these last few days have been very, very special because it’s been our first opportunity to have some friends, some family and come competitors here with the coaches. (And) as well to be able to try out, in some instances, for the first time being on snow,” he said.

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Click to play video: 'One year lead-up to the Invictus Games'
One year lead-up to the Invictus Games

Rasmus Penno is an Invictus Games athlete and a bilateral leg amputee from Estonia who previously competed in the 2018 Games in Australia in rowing.

He said in an interview on Thursday that taking part in the Games has been “awesome,” and has allowed him to connect with other military service personnel who have had similar life experiences.

Penno, who was in Canada and trying snow sports for the first time, said he plans to take part in nordic sit-skiing and perhaps alpine skiing events next year.

He said he met and skied with Prince Harry on Wednesday, and that the Duke and Duchess had asked him about his training.

“They support us more than anybody knows,” Penno said. “They are very kind people and they support us to try new sports like I did yesterday and the day before that. It was really nice to meet them.”

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Competitors from 23 nations will take part in next year’s Games to be held from Feb. 8 to 16.

Click to play video: 'Artwork reveal of the 2025 Invictus Games'
Artwork reveal of the 2025 Invictus Games

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