After winning a gold medal for the 100 meter freestyle at the Invictus Games yesterday, Sergeant Elizabeth Marks, 25, returned her gold medal back to Prince Harry and told him to give it to the British hospital that helped save her life.
‘While serving in Iraq as a medic back in 2010, she suffered from several hip injuries that needed multiple operations to correct. Also, prior to competing in the Invictus Games in 2014, Marks became severely ill and was forced to go on life support for two weeks after fluid filled her lungs and she fell unconscious.
Marks took up swimming while taking part in water therapy at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Marks said “I was going to the pool on my own to try rehabilitation when [Army] Master Sgt. [Rhoden] Galloway saw me swimming and suggested I try out.”
Marks ended up becoming a record breaking swimmer and winning medals for multiple events at the Warrior Games, which is a contest for disabled war veterans. She is currently the best overall swimmer in the breaststroke for Paralympic athletes. She calls the breaststroke her “happy stroke.”
Whenever taking to the water, she is inspired to compete and keep pushing on by her father, who is a former Marine that fought in the Vietnam War. Back in 2013, she told Chicago Medill News, “when I think, “Oh, I don’t think I can make this last 50 meters, [I realize] my dad would make this last 50.”
“When my body hurts and I feel as though I can’t push any harder, I remember all of those who no longer have the choice,” Marks said.
While serving in Iraq in 2010 she suffered bilateral hip injuries that hindered her mobility.
In an interview with the Daily Courier in 2011, Marks said, “one thing I can really say, I’m honored to serve with the people I did, that I was able to meet and work with such great people. I want to have it back. I’m optimistic.”
Marks won all four events that she competed in including the 50 meter freestyle, the 100 meter freestyle, the 50 meter backstroke and the 50 meter breaststroke.
She hopes to make the United States Paralympic team that will make its way to Rio this summer to compete.