By Debbie Gregory.
Sgt. Elizabeth Marks win medals not for the medals’ sake, but for the story of perseverance behind them. And the 25-year-old is once again winning medals for swimming, this time at the Paralympics in Rio.
Marks, an active-duty Army soldier, first received attention at the 2016 Invictus Games that were held in Orlando, FL. She won a gold medal, and requested Prince Harry take it back to the London hospital that she said saved her life.
The Arizona native was injured in Iraq in 2010. She went to London to compete in the inaugural Invictus Games, where she was struck down with a serious lung condition when she arrived in London. The medical staff at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge put Marks in an induced coma, which saved her life.
Cut to Rio, with Marks competing in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, earning a gold medal, and shattering a world record with a time of 1:28.13.
“I had no idea (I was winning),” Marks said. “I can’t see when I am swimming. About 25-meters in I have no idea where anybody else is. As long as I feel pressure on my hands I know it is going well. I was just hoping for the best and putting everything I had into it.”
This is Marks’ first Paralympic Games, and she says her motivation is the support of her fellow troops.
“When I step onto the blocks, I never think, ‘I want to win,'” she says. “I think, ‘I want to pour all of myself into this race because there are people who can’t physically, mentally or emotionally, do that.’ So it’s my way of performing for them.”