Olympic great Tatyana McFadden goes for two marathon wins in a week

Willing her wheelchair up Heartbreak Hill, Olympic legend Tatyana McFadden had a rare moment of doubt."I didn'...

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 11:57 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2018 11:57 AM

Willing her wheelchair up Heartbreak Hill, Olympic legend Tatyana McFadden had a rare moment of doubt.

"I didn't think I was going to make it" McFadden told CNN in an exclusive interview, referring to the notorious ascent 20 miles into Monday's Boston Marathon. Her feet were frostbitten from the freezing rain and she was trying to overcome powerful headwinds.

"I was kind of slipping and sliding in the rain. My clothes were wet, so my arms were heavy so it just made for a very slow marathon," McFadden said.

But she did make it, going on to win the women's wheelchair division in Boston for the fifth time, setting the stage for Sunday's London Marathon where she will be trying to win back-to-back races in the space of less than a week.

"Having them six days apart you have to kind of recover and rest as much as possible and try and get your body back into doing another marathon," said McFadden, who is trying to win the two races back-to-back for the fifth time. "It will be really tough but I like challenges."

READ: Schultz hopes radical prosthetics empower others

That's an understatement for the 28-year-old McFadden, who breaks barriers for a living. She's earned 17 Paralympic medals, including 7 golds, and won 22 major marathons.

She couldn't compete in the London marathon last year because she was recovering from surgery after suffering life-threatening blood clots in her legs. She regained momentum this fall, finishing first in both the New York and Chicago marathons.

Winning world class events at will has earned McFadden high-level endorsements from Nike, Coca-Cola, and BP.

She's also the face of a new innovation contest, launched by Toyota. The company is offering $4 million to inventors who can help people with paralysis live more independently. Finalists include a group developing an autonomous, eye-controlled wheelchair and a wearable exoskeleton that can aid paralyzed limbs.

McFadden has helped raise the profile of the sport, securing more access, media attention, and prize money for disabled athletes.

It's a life unimaginable considering where she came from.

From Russia to Fierce Disability Rights Advocate

Born with a disease called spina bifida, which paralyzed her from the waist down, McFadden still remembers the first six years of her life, spent in a Russian orphanage during the fall of the Soviet Union.

Without a wheelchair, she would scoot around on the floor, walking on her hands. In the orphanage, she found her life motto. "Ya sama" is a Russian phrase that roughly translates to "I can do it myself."

"I've always had that attitude," McFadden said. "I wanted to be independent and didn't want anyone to help me. I wanted to figure it out myself."

Deborah McFadden, a former U.S. Disability Commissioner under George H.W. Bush, and her partner, Bridget O'Shaughnessy, adopted Tatyana and brought her to the US.

"They found the local sports community, they helped me get into my first Paralympic games. Everything I've wanted to do in life, they've always said yes," Tatyana said.

READ: US Paralympian's remarkable journey from Ukraine orphanage

Deborah helped write the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibited discrimination against the disabled. Growing up in suburban Baltimore, Tatyana herself became a fierce disability rights advocate, suing the state of Maryland for the right to compete in high school sports.

"Here is somebody who is a champion, but it's more that she's a winner at the game of life," said Deborah McFadden, Tatyana's mother and manger -- nicknamed "Mom-ager" for short. "She's a role model for so many."

McFadden said she wants to be recognized as an elite athlete and not for overcoming a disability. Expect more challenges, more barriers to be broken and more medals.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Mason City
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Hot and sticky fourth of July weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

House fire under investigation in Rochester

Image

Fireworks calls over holiday weekend

Image

Prepping for the postseason in Iowa

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/5

Image

Alternative baseball hopes to come to the Med City in 2021

Image

FOURTH OF JULY IN AUSTIN AND STEWARTVILLE

Image

Seans 6pm Weather 7/4

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Image

Baseball returns to the Med City

Community Events