Excel in Sports, Paralympics, Racing

She used to walk on her hands, now she has the power to build bridges with them

20 Oct , 2014  

25621876There is one individual whose tale is perhaps even more uplifting than most. American Tatyana McFadden won her fourth consecutive Chicago Marathon title on Sunday in the women’s wheelchair race, adding another success to her incredible list of achievements.

The 25-year-old has won 11 Paralympic medals, three of them gold, as well as 10 International Paralympic Committee world championship titles. Last year, McFadden claimed victory in the London, Boston, New York and Chicago marathons, making her the first athlete, disabled or able-bodied, to win four major marathons in one year.

But her impressive list of victories is arguably overshadowed by her struggle to become an athlete in the first place. McFadden was born in St Petersburg, Russia in 1989 with spina bifida, a fault in the development of the spinal cord which paralysed her from the waist down. McFadden’s parents were unable to care for a disabled child so abandoned her in an orphanage. The orphanage was too poor to afford a wheelchair so McFadden spent the first six years of her life walking on her hands.

Then her life changed forever. Debbie McFadden, an American who worked as an official for the US Health Department, first met Tatyana at her orphanage during a working visit to Russia. She decided to adopt the young girl and bring her to the USA. For Tatyana, the move gave her the first taste of being part of a family and it also meant that she was given her first wheelchair. READ MORE