Tatyana McFadden spent much of her childhood in a St. Petersburg orphanage where she did not receive adequate medical attention for her spina bifida, a condition which paralyzed her from the waist downwards. Without access to a wheelchair, she learned to walk on her hands, an experience which she now tells The New York Times taught her “as much about finding mental strength as physical strength [and] may have helped my arms and shoulders [and] it also taught me that I was always going to find a way to do something.”
After being adopted by the International Children’s Alliance’s Deborah McFadden, Tatyana moved to Maryland and discovered her unbelievable athletic ability when racing with able-bodied runners. Since moving, her motto has been, “I can do it myself.”
And she most certainly can! Tatyana is now twenty-four and attends the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Oh, and she’s also won three gold metals in the Paralympic Games and won the Boston and London Marathons. Yesterday, she became to first person to win three marathons in one year when she strode to the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. She has also begun skiing, another sport at which she excels. Talk about inspirational. Brava, Tatyana!
Images via The New York Times