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    Tatyana McFadden

    Ones to watch
    USA USA Para athletics 21 April 1989

    St. Petersburg, Russia

    Tatyana McFadden of the United States celebrates winning a gold medal in the Women's 800m T54 Final at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.

    Biography

    Human Interest
    Data Value
    Impairment Information
    Type of Impairment Spinal Cord Injuries
    Origin of Impairment Congenital
    Classification T54
    Further Personal Information
    Residence Champaign, IL, USA
    Occupation Athlete
    Languages English
    Sport Specific Information
    When and where did you begin this sport? She took up the sport through the Bennett Blazers programme in Baltimore, MD, United States of America. "I got to try everything. They had chairs for basketball, racing chairs, hand bikes if you wanted to bike, swimming, archery. My parents would drive me every weekend and sit there for eight hours, when I did all those different sports."
    Why this sport? She tried a number of sports at the Bennett Blazers programme but fell in love with wheelchair racing. "By the time I was in the seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. I didn't even know what the Paralympic Games were."
    Club / Team University of Illinois Wheelchair Racing Team: Champaign, IL, USA
    Name of coach Adam Bleakney [club, national], USA
    Training Regime She covers about 120 miles in her wheelchair each week, and also does two weights sessions.
    International Debut
    Year 2004
    Competing for United States
    Tournament Paralympic Games
    Location Athens, GRE
    General Interest
    Nicknames Beast (nbcolympics.com, 09 Jun 2016)
    Hobbies Charity projects, sport. (Facebook page, 26 Feb 2019)
    Memorable sporting achievement Winning medals at the Paralympic Games in 2004, 2012 and 2016. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
    Most influential person in career Her parents. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
    Hero / Idol Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
    Injuries Health issues such as blood clots and surgery disrupted her 2017 season, although she was still able to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, England. (paralympic.org, 15 Apr 2018)
    Sporting philosophy / motto "You have the power to be anything you want to be." (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
    Awards and honours She was named in the '30 Under 30 Class Of 2017' by Forbes magazine. (teamusa.org, 03 Jan 2017)

    She was voted the Best Female Athlete of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro by the United States Olympic Committee [USOC]. (paralympic.org, 29 Sep 2016)

    She was presented with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The honour is given to the athlete who has performed at an outstanding level and overcome adversity. (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 15 Sep 2016)

    She received the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award [ESPY] for Best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2016. (baltimoresun.com, 14 Jul 2016)

    She was named the 2015 Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year by USOC. (olympics.nbcsports.com, 11 Dec 2015)

    She received the Juan Antonio Samaranch International Olympic Committee [IOC] Disabled Athlete award in 2015. (insidethegames.biz, 25 Aug 2015)

    She was named Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability at the 2015 Laureus Sports Awards. (rio2016.org.br, 15 Apr 2015)

    She was named the 2014 Female Para Athlete of the Year by USA Track and Field [USATF]. (insidethegames.biz, 21 Dec 2014)
    Other sports She represented the United States of America in cross-country skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, winning silver in the sprint - sitting women event. (SportsDeskOnline, 27 Feb 2019; teamusa.org, 18 Apr 2016)
    Milestones In 2013 she became the first person to win the Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York Marathon in the same year. She repeated the feat in 2014, 2015 and 2016. (teamusa.org, 21 Feb 2019; insidethegames.biz, 03 Nov 2013)

    She was the first female Para athlete to win six gold medals at a single world championships, claiming victory in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m at the 2013 edition of the tournament in Lyon, France. (insidethegames.biz, 03 Nov 2013)
    Famous relatives Her sister Hannah has represented the United States of America in wheelchair racing. She won gold in the T54 400m at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, ON, Canada. (SportsDeskOnline, 05 Sep 2016; teamusa.org, 01 Jul 2016)
    Ambitions To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (teamusa.org, 15 Apr 2018)
    Impairment She was born with spina bifida and is paralysed from the waist down. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017; bbc.co.uk, 12 Jul 2013)
    Other information BLOOD CLOT CONCERNS
    In November 2016 she noticed swelling around her legs. Although she was initially unconcerned, the problem worsened while she was at a training camp in California, United States of America, and she was unable to get into her racing wheelchair. She was diagnosed with blood clots, which can potentially cause pulmonary embolism and become fatal. She returned home to Maryland, where she had three operations, but she did not finally solve the problem until August 2017 after visiting a doctor that had been recommended by one of her mother's friends. "They went in and looked at the clots in more detail and realised that my blood was slowing down. Being born with spina bifida I have only one kidney and they theorised there was no open and direct route for the vein blood to travel back to my heart." (bostonmagazine.com, 12 Apr 2018)

    MOVE TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    She was born paralysed from the waist down due to spina bifida, and was abandoned at an orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. She did not have a wheelchair, so she learned to walk using her hands. At age six she was adopted by Deborah McFadden, who had visited the orphanage as part of her work as a commissioner for the US Department of Health and Human Sciences. (teamusa.org, 01 Jul 2016; Baltimore Sun, 08 Oct 2008)

    LEGAL BATTLE
    In 2006 her adoptive mother Deborah McFadden filed a lawsuit against the Howard County Board of Education in the United States of America. The board had ruled that while it was fine for Tatyana to practise and travel with her able-bodied teammates, she was limited to racing in events designated for wheelchair athletes. School officials said that allowing wheelchair racers and runners to compete at the same time could cause safety problems and change the nature of the sport. The McFaddens had sought permission for their daughter to compete only at the same time as the other runners, not directly against them. She was eventually cleared to compete in Howard County track meets. Known as 'Tatyana's Law', it was initially used in a few US states but became a national law in 2013. (bbc.co.uk, 12 Jul 2013; The Washington Post, 19 Apr 2006)

    OTHER ACTIVITIES
    She has set up the Tatyana McFadden Foundation, which is part of the New York Road Runners Team for Kids in the United States of America. The organisation aims to support young athletes with an impairment. In addition she has served on the board of directors for the Illinois Spina Bifida Association, and she is also the author of a children's book called 'Ya Sama! Moments from My Life' in which she writes about her experiences when she was young. (self.com, 14 May 2019; athletesquarterly.com, 20 May 2018)

    FURTHER STUDIES
    In May 2019 she earned a master's degree in education from the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL, United States of America. (self.com, 14 May 2019)

    The biographies are regularly updated and new biographies of other Paralympic sports will be added frequently. If you find any mistake in a biography, please contact Rafael Maranhao, IPC Public Relations Senior Manager, at rafael.maranhao@paralympic.org.

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