Tatyana McFadden – Paralympics Champion
Tatyana McFadden is an American athlete of Russian origin, multiple Paralympic Games winner.
Tatyana is a very strong woman. Her teammate sprinter David Prince named her “the beast” for the physical and intellectual strength. And it isn’t an overstatement.
At the 2012 Paralympic Games in London she won three gold medals and a bronze medal. Tatyana won silver at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and bronze at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.
Outstanding girl was born in 1989 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia.
The baby was born with numerous defects of the lower half of the body, suffering from spinal disc herniation. That’s why just after her birth the mother abandoned her baby. Tatyana’s father was an engineer who worked in the Chernobyl area. And an accident at a nuclear power plant could affect his baby’s health.
The girl was transferred to the orphanage number 13. In the early 1990s, due to the difficult economic situation in Russia there was no money to buy wheelchairs for children’s homes, so Tatyana even had to learn to walk on her hands.
Deborah McFadden, who promoted the rights of children with disabilities in the U.S. government, was asked to search a new family for Tatyana.
Deborah said that she was not going to adopt a child and especially 6-year-old quadriplegic child. But when she returned to the hotel after visiting the orphanage, she could not forget Tatyana.
McFadden first saw Tatyana when the baby was 4 years old, and two years later, at a meeting with the director she was reminded of the promise to help find a new family for the girl.
In 1994 Deborah adopted Tatyana. McFadden has two more adopted daughters from Albania – Hannah and Ruthi.
Adoptive mother bought a wheelchair for Tatyana. The girl was engaged in various sports disciplines to strengthen the body: swimming, gymnastics, basketball and wheelchair skiing. According to Deborah, Tatyana refused any help, saying – “I myself” (Ya sama).
15-year-old girl took part in her first Paralympic Games in Athens. In the same year she entered the Atolton High School in Maryland. And in 2006 she had a chance to compete. Athletic scholarship allowed Tatyana to become a student at the University of Illinois.
“I was too young, but I still remember when I saw Deborah. I immediately understood. I realized something special. I knew that she would be my mom. It was a miracle. I was terribly skinny, very sick and anemic. If I hadn’t been adopted, I probably would not have survived. But life is a journey, and now it’s hard to believe that I was an orphan. When I came to America, I thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. I had a wheelchair, I could get wherever I wanted. I had a lot of clothes.”
Today Tanya is one of the most famous athletes in the world.
After London Marathon McFadden came to Russia to the Orphanage number 13. She wanted to go back and see everything. It was a very important period in her development as a person, it’s a part of her heritage.
Tatyana presented the director Natalia Nikiforova with a gold medal, which she won in the New York Marathon.
In 2016, at the XV Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Tatyana became the laureate of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award.
Her official site