The Sweet Story Behind Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Hug with Invictus Games Athlete

Lisa Johnston of Team U.K., who won the gold medal in shot put, told Prince Harry: "I'm a bit of a hugger"

What's better than a gold medal at the Invictus Games? A congratulatory hug from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry!

After Lisa Johnston of Team U.K. earned gold in the shot put competition, she draped the Union Jack around her shoulders and shared a sweet embrace with the Duke of Sussex, who presented her with the medal.

"I was really surprised to win the gold," Johnston tells PEOPLE. "Prince Harry coming over had this big smile on his face. I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm a bit of a hugger,' and he said, 'No problem,' and he gives me a hug. It was incredible."

After a "celebratory dance," Johnston got a second embrace from both Harry and Meghan. She says the couple "both just came in and gave me this massive hug."

Meghan and Harry Invictus Games
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry hug Invictus Games athlete Lisa Johnston. Patrick van Katwijk/Getty

Johnston joined the Army in 2001 as a medical technician and served 17 years. After injuring herself during a physical therapy session in 2014, she developed a condition called complex regional pain syndrome.

"The only way I can best describe it is having a million paper cuts, rubbed down with alcohol gel, rubbed with sandpaper and set on fire," she tells PEOPLE.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex hugs Lisa Johnston of Team United Kingdom at the Athletics Competition during day two of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020
Prince Harry and Lisa Johnston. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

In June 2016, she had her leg amputated to relieve the pain.

After joining a gym and connecting with the Invictus Games, Johnston began to find common ground with other competitors.

"Being with like-minded people, you talk, you relate to similar situations. It was a laugh," she says. "The morale you missed from being in the forces, it was there again. It picks you up. You have a right giggle."

Lisa Johnston
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Lisa Johnston. Chris Jackson/Getty

The Invictus Games in The Hague marked the first time that the mom of three boys had her two youngest sons watch her run.

"I got proper emotional," she says. "My boys saw me run, and I saw how proud they were of me. I'm mum at the end of the day. I want to make my kids proud. This whole experience, I personally don't see what all the fuss is about, because I'm just mum."

Johnston also held a teddy bear with a prosthetic leg while celebrating her shot put win.

"I've got a little mascot for me, I've got Ted. Teddy's like me," she says. "When I'm not with my kids, I can hug Ted, and I am hugging them."

She adds, "If I didn't have a family, hand on my heart, I would not be here. That's a scary thing to think about. It's my family that got me through this. As a mum, I don't have the luxury of feeling sorry for myself."

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The day ahead of their hug, Johnston met Prince Harry at the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge — joking that after two meetings, he's "my best mate — he can't stop following me around."

Johnston also gifted Prince Harry with a keyring.

"I said, 'Hi, I'm a mum, artsy-crafty, I've been making keyrings in yellow and black for Invictus and the key fob says never give up.' I said, 'I've made one for you.' "

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