Meet the Athletes

Tatyana McFadden

Tatyana McFadden

Tatyana McFadden has had a tremendous year: After taking home 3 golds and a bronze in wheelchair racing in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, she topped that in 2013 when she won an unprecedented four marathons, in Boston, New York, Chicago, and London. This made her the first racer, able-bodied or disabled, to win four marathons in a year.

That same year, she was also the first woman to win six medals at a single World Championships. And she took up and won a spot on the national team in a whole new sport for her: Nordic skiing.

The coaches knew immediately that she would be a competitor in Nordic cross-country, a speed sport like wheelchair racing. After barely eight days of training on snow, racing in a sit-ski sled that was not custom-fitted, Tatyana won the national sprint title and made herself a leading contender for the Nordic team at the 2014 Paralympics.

But like most of the Nordic team, Tatyana will also compete in biathlon. The key for McFadden in biathlon, says team director John Farra, is putting together the two very different skill sets of racing and shooting. He calls her “amazing” as she trains with fellow rookie skier Oksana Masters, who, like McFadden, is a Summer sport winner, taking bronze in London 2012 in rowing.

The Nordic team this year has tripled in size from the last Paralympic Games. In 2010 only six athletes were on the team; this year, Tatyana joins a team of twelve men, four women, and two guides for visually-impaired athletes.

Tatyana’s life story is dramatic: born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida, abandoned to life in an orphanage, adopted by an American woman, Deborah McFadden.

Tatyana graduated from the University of Illinois, where she studied human development. Her sister Hannah is also a wheelchair racer, and the two sisters made history again in 2012 when they competed head to head in the London Paralympics.

Update from Sochi: Tatyana took home a bronze medal in women's 1-kilometer sit sprint.

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