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This Is The Invictus Swimming Champion Who Surprised Prince Harry And Gave Her Gold Medal Away

3 minute read

Just call him Prince Charming!

Prince Harry set the internet abuzz after he charmed a champion swimmer at the Invictus Games as he awarded her a gold medal on Wednesday night – and the U.S. Army soldier gave it right back to him.

But all is not as it seems. Sergeant Elizabeth Marks, a (happily married) 25-year-old from Arizona, wants Harry to give her medal for the 100-meter freestyle to Papworth Hospital in England – as a thanks for saving her life two years ago.

Just before the first Invictus Games of 2014, Sgt. Marks became ill with a serious lung condition and had to be put into an induced coma in London.

She told reporters of her ordeal: “I landed in London and became very ill very rapidly, I was in hospital in London and went into respiratory distress syndrome, they shipped a team down from Papworth who put me on to ECMO [extracorporeal membrane oxygenation] life support and that ultimately saved my life.

“And when they did so I was on it for 10 days and ended up waking in an army hospital in Germany having no idea what had happened.

“But they absolutely saved my life and I can’t thank the UK enough for having that kind of medical support and taking such good care of me.

“So I gave Prince Harry one of my medals and hope it will find its way back to Papworth.”

Like most hospitals in the U.K., Papworth is part of the publicly-funded National Health Service and she praised the care she received: “Thank you, I’ll never be able to repay you, but what you’re doing is wonderful.”

Sgt. Marks has been in the U.S. Army since she was 17. She suffered a serious hip injury in 2010 which left her with no sensation in her left leg but she fought back to fitness and still serves in the military.

And she’s an ace sportswoman. She netted gold in all four swimming events she entered at the Invictus Games in Orlando this week. “It’s just an honor to be here and stand next to all the other soldiers, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be,” she added.

“I was a little apprehensive, I was nervous because of what had happened last time but I was eager to perform and show my team and show the other countries how much I love their support.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

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