COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Escorted by Britain's Prince Harry and swimming superstar Missy Franklin, a U.S. Navy officer blinded by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan lit an Olympic-style cauldron Saturday to launch the Warrior Games for wounded service members.
Lt. Bradley Snyder, Harry and Franklin completed the last leg of a brief torch relay at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to formally start the games. All three lifted the torch to the lip of the cauldron to ignite the flame.
It was a touching start to the Paralympic-style games, which run through Thursday. About 260 athletes are competing in basketball, volleyball, shooting, archery, track and field and swimming — Snyder's sport.
Harry was a combat helicopter in pilot in Afghanistan, and the British veterans said that makes him easy to talk to.
"He knows what it's like out there," said Army Capt. Dave Henson, a member of the volleyball team. "He's been on the ground and in the air."
Henson, 28, lost both legs when an improvised bomb exploded in Afghanistan two years ago. He said Harry took a personal interest in the athletes' recovery and their health care.
The prince on Saturday afternoon pulled a Union Jack jersey over his uniform and joined the British team in a raucous exhibition game of sitting volleyball against U.S. players. That delighted the audience of several hundred and prompted a string of teasing taunts from the arena announcer.
The visit to Colorado began Friday night when Harry charmed dozens of dignitaries, British expatriates, students and military officers at a cocktail party. He joined the crowd in helping Franklin, a Coloradan, celebrate turning 18.