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Invictus Games hero cried after Papworth Hospital thanked her for medal gesture

Published 13/05/2016

Prince Harry presenting Elizabeth Marks with a gold medal
Prince Harry presenting Elizabeth Marks with a gold medal
Prince Harry on stage with all the American athletes during the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida

Sergeant Elizabeth Marks has revealed she cried like a baby when Papworth Hospital tweeted its thanks after the US soldier donated her Invictus gold medal to the institution.

The US soldier asked Prince Harry to take the medal back to the UK as a thank you to Papworth which saved her life when she became gravely ill in London in 2014.

The gesture was the moment of the Orlando Invictus Games which was formally brought to a close with a night of celebration, with a host of musical acts entertaining the injured military and veterans who had competed over the past four days.

In his speech to the thousands who gathered in the champions stadium in Orlando, Florida, Harry said: "What is the force that drives Elizabeth Marks to return to these games after nearly dying two years ago, to compete now, at the highest level ... Invictus."

He painted a picture of the games in numbers: "Four days, 10 sports, 13 support dogs, 14 nations, 149 events, 410 medals, 485 competitors, 836 volunteers, 1,008 friends and family, hundreds of hours of gruelling competition - and more smiles, tears, hugs and cheers than you could ever count."

The prince went on to highlight the medallions all competitors received during the ceremony: "I've been hugely honoured to hand out gold silver and bronze medals over the course of this competition, but what meant the most to me, was handing out your Invictus Foundation medallions this evening.

"Those medallions are the real prizes, for the years of intense rehabilitation you've put yourselves through to be here.

"The competition has been fierce with performances of the highest international standard across a number of events. But what inspired me, was the courage to make it to the starting line, to take to the field or to dive into that pool, motivated by the goal of giving your all - medal or no medal."

Sgt Marks, a combat medic, who suffered a serious hip injury which has left her with no sensation in her left leg, was interviewed during the closing ceremony.

She told the thousands in the stands: "I was able to see a Twitter picture from the hospital thanking me, and I cried like a baby."

The tweet posted by Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire said "thank you" to the Sergeant "for your incredible donation".

It was accompanied by a picture of hospital staff each holding a piece of paper printed with a letter which spelled out the same message "Thank you Sgt Marks".

The 25-year-old was struck down with a serious lung condition when she arrived in London to compete in the first Invictus Games in the UK and was put into an induced coma. A medical team from Papworth put her on a special life support machine that ultimately saved her life.

Yesterday Harry presented the Sergeant with her Invictus medal - one of four golds she won in the pool - but she gave it back to him saying it should go to the hospital which he has said he will ensure happens.

Among the acts that played for the crowds were Jordan Smith, a past winner of the US version of the talent show The Voice, who kicked off the entertainment.

He had some of the competitors waving their hands in the air when he sang the Queen song Somebody To Love with a gospel choir.

Metal band Vetted - made up of US veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan - sang military themed songs at a deafening level.

And in contrast singer songwriter Rachel Platten sang crafted pop songs that had the crowds waving the torches on their camera phones.

Hip Hop act Flo Rida closed the show before the spectators were treated to a fireworks display.

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From Belfast Telegraph