"Getting to be here and getting to experience this is incredible," said Derek Hough, a few minutes after he left the court following the Jaguar Land Rover celebrity wheelchair rugby exhibition at the Invictus Games on Thursday evening. The World of Dance star is no stranger to the game, having participated in the same match in Orlando last year.
And while his team was defeated, the 32-year-old was too busy praising the incredible Invictus athletes to be too disappointed. "It's phenomenal what they do." he told HELLO! adding that as a competitive dancer he understands why sport is a crucial tool in rehabilitation. "I really believe that adaptive sports save lives. It gives purpose and meaning and clarity. It's important to have events like this for these men and women to have something to look forward to and to train for."
As impressed as he is by the athletes, the former Dancing with the Stars pro is as equally impressed by the event's founder, Prince Harry. "I lived in England for ten years and I sort of watched Prince Harry grow up. To see how down to earth he is and how he inserts himself into these games. I really admire that about him."
The Invictus Games 2017 kicked off on Sept. 23 with a spectacular opening ceremonies. The event featured performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and The Tenors and saw Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Mike Myers deliver moving speeches to the athletes. Prince Harry also took the stage, while his girlfriend Meghan Markle watched from the stands, and promised the city of Toronto that it was in for a week of fierce and inspiring competition.