“He was mainly talking to Knoxville, my puppy,” says Stefan Leroy, whose service dog received a princely pat on Sunday.
Leroy adds, “He got to play with him for a little bit. He was saying he was a good boy and beautiful looking.”
The 26-year-old former army sergeant — who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2012 — says Harry, 33, “was encouraging us all.”
For Christy Wise, 30, co-captain of the US Team, it was a chance to exchange some light-hearted banter with the prince as he toured the facility.
“I was carrying my leg and he was ‘Are you carrying you own leg or someone else’s?’ ” she says. “I was like, ‘My own leg this time.’ ”
Wise continues, “He just hangs out with us. He’s all about this. He knows the athletes and is not here to take the picture and leave.”
The serving pilot of Reno, Nevada, severed her right leg when she was hit by a motorboat while paddle-boarding in the sea near Shalimar, Florida, in April 2015. When she took a dive down to swim away from the boat, the propeller cut into her.
She received a bronze medal from Harry following the 100m race. He embraced all the medal-winners in the trackside ceremony.
“I just gave him a hug and tried to keep it short,” Wise adds.
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In the 200-meter race later, she came in third, after she stumbled when she kicked her ankle with the prosthetic. And then, in a moment that summed up what the Invictus Games are all about, the other racers waited for her and then hugged her at the finish line.
She says, “Sarah Rudder and I train together and are good friends. It’s all about being out here.”
She is looking forward to rowing on Tuesday. “I usually have an disadvantage because I’m an above-the-knee amputee and the other girls are below-the-knee. But in rowing it kind of evens the playing field a little.”
Leroy and Wise are among around 550 competitors from 17 nations taking part in competition until September 30 in Toronto, Canada.