(Updates) ‘Invictus’ Means Unconquered — and These Men and Women Are!
Here is the full, inspiring story of Invictus Games Gold Medals winner U.S. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, who was originally injured during a 2010 deployment to Iraq while serving as a medical assistant, then barely survived respiratory failure in London in 2014.
Marks now hopes to represent the Army and the USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Below, Prince Harry presents a gold medal to U.S. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla., May 11, 2016. Marks won the gold medal with a time of 42:67 seconds. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie
The Invictus Games are officially over.
However, there are so many touching and inspiring stories coming out of the Games that it would take several columns to cover just a few of them — Perhaps we will.
Here is just one such story about U.S. combat medic Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a story that appeared in USA TODAY.
Marks, a swimmer at the Invictus Games (photo below), had won four gold medals.
Just before the inaugural 2014 Invictus Games in London, 25-year old Marks collapsed and the British national Health Service (NHS) “crucially” intervened to save her life.
“I landed in London and became very ill, very rapidly,” she told the Telegraph. “They shipped a team down from Papworth who put me on [life support] and that ultimately saved my life … I can’t thank the UK enough for having that kind of medical support and taking such good care of me.”
So, instead of taking home all the gold medals she won, Marks asked Prince Harry to take one of the medals she won in Orlando back to England to Papworth, the hospital that saved her life.
Please read more here.
Then there is the story of Retired Marine Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder (below) who survived the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, only to have her left ankle crushed when she returned to the Pentagon to help remove the remains of victims. “The injury, which required five reconstructive surgeries, eventually led to her left leg being amputated two years ago,” according to the Marine Corps Times.
Rudder came back “from that setback to thrive on another stage, winning seven medals through Tuesday in two days of Paralympic events ranging from rowing to shot-put at the international Invictus Games…”
Read more here
Whether they are competing in the Paralympics, the annual Warrior Games or in other similar sports events, I have the greatest admiration and respect for the wounded warriors who participate in such events.
I respect and admire them not only for their past sacrifices but also for their grit, resolve and sheer will power to become the best they can — in this case in sports — despite their physical and mental injuries, whether they are amputees, cancer survivors, partially paralyzed men and women or recovering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.
I have faithfully written about these wounded warriors and their accomplishments, but for various reasons I have failed to write about some relatively new “Games” which in the words of Britain’s Prince Harry:
… have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.
According to the Invictus Games Foundation, “The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.”
The Games are the brainchild of Prince Harry who, during a visit to the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, “saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially…” After observing the Games, the Prince’s mind was made up and the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in 2014.
This year’s Invictus Games — the second Games — are taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida, May 8-12, hosting more than 500 wounded, ill and injured service members from 14 nations around the world, an event meant to “inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their countries.”
Britain’s Prince Harry talks to wounded warriors at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, alongside first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, as they officially launch the second Invictus Games, Oct. 28, 2015. DoD photo by Katie Lange
A third Invictus Games will be held in Toronto, Canada in September 2017.
These are some images of the ongoing games in Orlando:
Britain’s Prince Harry uses a starting gun for a running event during the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom
Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro throws a shot put during the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom
Army Capt. Kelly Elmlinger, a member of the U.S. team, races a wheelchair to victory during the 2016 Invictus Games. Elminger won a gold medal in the event. DoD photo by EJ Hersom
Medically retired Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Payne competes in seated discus during the Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas, April 1, 2015. Payne is slated to compete at the 2016 Invictus Games. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.
Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks competes in the women’s breaststroke swimming finals during the 2016 Invictus Games, May 11, 2016. Marks won the gold medal with a time of 42:67 seconds. DoD photo by Edward Joseph Hersom II
Army veteran Alexander Shaw, left center, and Air Force veteran Nicholas Dadgostar, right center, attempt to block the ball against the Canadian team playing a sitting volleyball competition during 2016 Invictus Games, May 7, 2016. Also pictured are U.S. Special Operations Command Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Martinez left, and U.S. Army veteran Robbie Gaup, right. DoD photo by Roger Wollenberg
Marine Corps veteran Sarah Rudder, center, takes gold in a women’s 100-meter race during the 2016 Invictus Games, May 10, 2016. Also competing were Army veteran Anna Manciaz, left, and Army Staff Sgt. Lauren Montoya, right. DoD photo by Roger Wollenberg
A member of the U.S. team holds an American flag after winning a gold medal during the 2016 Invictus Games, May 10, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom
To read a separate, touching story about medically retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ronnie Jeffrey Jimenez, who is competing in the hand cycle H4 disability category time trial and criterium cycling competition (below) , please click here.
Lead photo: An athlete runs past the 2016 Invictus Games logo during a racing event at the Games in Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2016. DoD photo by EJ Hersom