U.S. soldier Elizabeth Marks returned one of her four gold medals from the Invictus Games to Prince Harry and asked him to pass the medal on to the British hospital that saved her life two years ago.
Marks won all four swimming events she entered during the Invictus Games, a sporting event founded by Prince Harry for injured veterans.
After Prince Harry, himself a veteran of British Army Air Corps, presented the gold medal to Marks, she gave it back so it can be presented to the Papworth Hospital team in England.
Two years ago, Marks competed in the inaugural Invictus Games in London, but she became “very ill, very rapidly,” suffering from respiratory distress syndrome, which required external lung support. She received care at Papworth Hospital which, she says, saved her life.
The medal was “the only thing I could give to thank them for saving my life,” she said. “I will never be able to repay you, but what you are doing is wonderful.”
Marks joined the U.S. army at 17, but suffered a hip injury in 2010 which left her with no sensation in her left leg. She still serves in the military with the rank of Sergeant, ITV.com reported.
Veterans from 11 countries competed for 87 medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke, 50-meter breaststroke, 100-meter freestyle, and mixed 4×50-meter freestyle relay events during the swimming competition.
The whole event hosts 500 athletes from 14 countries to compete in the Paralympic-style games over a 4-day span.
The prince created The Invictus Games to “harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country,” according to the Games’ website.