The curtain has come down on the second Invictus Games which brought together 500 athletes from 14 different countries. The last six events took place yesterday, 12 May, with the semis and finals of basketball and tennis, two sports played in wheelchairs.
Tennis is played on a normal court with rackets, balls and nets identical to those used by Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. The only difference is that the wheelchairs are specifically designed for this sport and the players are allowed to let the ball bounce twice, including once outside the court. British soldiers won the gold, followed by the New Zealanders and the Dutch.
Wheelchair basketball is also played on a court and with the baskets and balls that are the same as those used in the traditional version. The wheelchairs are adapted to allow the players to pivot very quicky thanks to the angle of inclination of the wheels and the addition of two small anti-tipping wheels that ensure optimal stability. A specific rule of wheelchair basketball is that the player must dribble every two thrusts on the wheels in order to respect the same rule as for traditional basketball. Unsurprisingly the US favourite won the gold against the United Kingdom, whilst Denmark won the bronze medal in a match against the Netherlands.
Although they were not playing on this last day of competition, the 31 French athletes, their four trainers and two physical therapists performed well overall. They won 37 medals: 11 gold, 11 silver and 15 bronze, more than doubling the number of medals gained by the French team during the first Invictus Games in London.
The French soldiers are coming home with their heads held high and a certainty: they will be there next year in Toronto for the third edition of this sporting event that has quickly imposed itself on the world calendar of sports.