Your Source for LAWest News, People, Places and Things to Do

Top Menu


Why Paralympian Tatyana McFadden deserves your vote

This Wednesday at 8 PM on ABC, ESPN will honor the best in sports—with the public voting on categories from Best Athlete to Best Team. Tatyana McFadden is one of 5 female Paralympians nominated for an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Yearly Award) in the category Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

Tatyana’s athletic trajectory is stunning: This year alone, she won the wheelchair division of the 2015 Boston Marathon for the third straight time and set new world records at the June 2015 Swiss Series in three events. One week after Boston, she won the London Marathon for the third time and was crowned world champion in the event. London marked her tenth straight marathon victory.

Even more awe-inspiring is that Tatyana, born with spina bifida (a hole in her spine), spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage without any support or a wheelchair. “Getting around as a child I learned to walk, not on my feet, but on my hands. I look back now, seeing the situation in which I was born, a child without functioning legs. I have thought about all of the ‘what ifs’ and realize that the person and athlete I am today is because of what happened to me, not in spite of it,” Tatyana says. “I do not dwell on what could have been. Instead I look to what can be.” 

In 1994, Deborah McFadden, then Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health, met Tatyana at the orphanage, felt a special connection, and adopted her. To stay healthy in her new American surroundings, Tatyana tackled every sport she could-wheelchair basketball, swimming, ice hockey, and even scuba diving, until her passion lit with wheelchair racing.

In 2004, Tatyana made her Paralympic debut in Athens as the youngest member of Team USA and took home silver and bronze medals. Two years later she was winning gold at World Championships and setting world records.

Tatyana returned to Russia in 2013 to compete in cross country ski racing with the Sochi Paralympic Team. With less than a year of snow experience, she sprinted to the finish line, winning a silver medal, the eleventh of her career.

Besides competing and winning, the 26-year-old human development graduate spends her time advocating for people with disabilities. She worked to help pass the Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, which mandates that school give students with disabilities a chance to compete in interscholastic athletics. She continued to champion for federal legislation, which was passed in 2013.

“I believe we all have the ability to achieve greatness in our lives — greatness that often comes out of the crucible of adversity. All it takes is strength, stamina, imagination and the support of the people and the society around us,” says the lifetime member of the Girl Scouts who plans to get her masters in education and one day work with critically ill children. “Living with a disability does not limit one’s ability to excel in life. Let’s not let our society, or some element within it, clip our wings.”

A vote for Tatyana is a nod to her greatness and for the potential in all of us. Voting closes this Wednesday at 8 PM. Read more about Tatyana McFadden here.

Article Name
Why Paralympian Tatyana McFadden deserves your vote
Tatyana McFadden is one of 5 female Paralympians nominated for ESPN's Best Athlete with a Disability this Wednesday on ABC television.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Facebook Comments