Meet The Inspiring Olympic Athlete We Can’t Wait To Watch

Real Simple


Tatyana McFadden was born 
in Leningrad, Russia, in 1989, with 
a hole in her spine. Paralyzed from the waist down, she spent her first six years in an orphanage 
and taught herself to walk on her hands. Two decades later, she 
is the only athlete in the world—male, female, able, or disabled—
to win the grand slam of marathons, 
finishing first in Boston, London, Chicago, and New York in the same year, 2012, as well as in 2013 
and 2014. Already the owner of 11 Paralympic medals, this summer she will attempt to become the 
first Paralympic athlete to medal in 
all seven track events in one meet. Her moms, Deborah McFadden and Bridget O’Shaughnessey, have been her support system from the start, in every possible way. Deborah is a former U.S. Commissioner of Disabilities and was a key player in the writing and passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, in 1990. Later, when Tatyana was in high school and banned from competing in 
her wheelchair against able-bodied runners, Tatyana and Deborah filed a suit against their Maryland county and won. That spurred
 the passage of a state law requiring schools to allow students 
with disabilities to compete in interscholastic sports.

Real Simple: Tell us about how you found each other.

Deborah McFadden: 
In 1994 I was over [in Leningrad, at an orphanage] on a government trip, with no intention of adoption. Tatyana was one of many cute, beautiful children, but she was the only disabled child. She sort of scooted over to me. She wanted 
to see my camera. 
And I just kept her with me that whole day. 
I don’t really know what 
 it was, but the next day, I just had to go see her. I wasn’t a mother yet, and I’d never had that feeling before.

Tatyana McFadden: 
I was six years old. 
People were always coming in and out, wanting to adopt. 
I always hoped I would be the one they picked. I don’t really know 
why, but immediately I knew she would be 
my mom. I just remember running around and telling everyone, and they were like, “OK! Yeah, great!” For me, it was just an instantaneous connection.

D.M.: Bridget and I have been together for 32 years, and it was about 11 years at that point. I came home 
and showed her pictures of Tatyana.

Bridget O’Shaugh­nessey: I fell in love with her. The first time 
I met her, she was so adventurous and cute. She followed me all over the place, and she was so excited with everything we gave her. I remember she fell asleep with a toothbrush in her hand.

D.M.: There is this Russian phrase Ya, sama, which basically means 
“I can do it myself.” 
 And no matter what we 
exposed Tatyana to, she said, “Ya, sama.” We were told she wasn’t going to have a long life because she was so weak and had so 
 many physical challenges. So we thought we should get her involved in activities that would make her stronger right away. When she came into our lives, the dream was to keep her alive—never to make her an Olympic athlete.

B.O.: Whatever she wanted to do, we decided we would figure out how it could 
be possible. She had this amazing, independent personality. So 
we threw her into swimming, wheelchair basketball, archery, sled hockey—anything 
to make her stronger.

T.M.: I liked sports, 
but it wasn’t until I was 10 or 12, when I saw myself improving and getting faster, that I realized maybe I could be good at them.

RS: You’ve written a children’s book.

T.M.: Yes, it’s called Ya Sama. It’s about overcoming obstacles—and how important it is for all kids to have dreams.

David Boudia Announced As Brand Ambassador For ZICO

Business Wire

In conjunction with the kickoff of the 100-day countdown to Rio 2016, ZICO, Official Coconut Water of the Olympic Games, is proud to announce two world-class athletes as our partners. David Boudia, gold medal winner in men’s diving at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Ali Krieger, long-standing member of the world champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, will serve as ZICO brand ambassadors at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“Whether I’m gearing up for a workout, mixing up a smoothie, or looking for quick, on-the-go hydration, ZICO has been a staple in my diet for years, so getting involved with the company is such a natural next step”

As part of ZICO’s Olympic campaign, Boudia and Krieger will be featured in a series of promotions, bringing to life how to “Refresh the Winner Inside” and “Refresh Your Game.” The pair will star in ongoing in-store activations, exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, and a flyaway consumer sweepstakes.

“Whether I’m gearing up for a workout, mixing up a smoothie, or looking for quick, on-the-go hydration, ZICO has been a staple in my diet for years, so getting involved with the company is such a natural next step,” added David Boudia.

“We’re ecstatic to welcome these extraordinarily talented athletes to the ZICO family, and join them on their journey to Rio,” said Lorna Peters, ZICO Chief Marketing Officer. “They both embody the passion and individual perseverance the ZICO brand stands for.”

Marlen Esparza As AIBA Ambassador For 2016 World Championships



You won gold at the World Boxing Championships in Jeju two years ago at flyweight and this year you will box at light flyweight, is that a new challenge?

It has affected how I workout, so ultimately, how I prepare myself. I had to start a new diet and focus a lot more on my timing and punch placement because speed is not the key at light flyweight. My focus is different when I’m at the gym and I’m doing all I can to win another gold medal.

You are part of the AIBA Ambassadors program which aims to promote women’s boxing, why is that important to you?

Firstly, women’s boxing has grown tremendously since I began 15 years ago, and in order for us as a whole to continue our momentum, we must make sure that our names are getting bigger and our talent is getting stronger. I have been blessed to be put in a position to help keep women’s boxing in the public eye and I would love nothing more than to continue to do so for the women and young girls that follow.

What three things have made you the athlete you are today?

I would say love for my sport, the ability to keep focus when all the odds are against me, and a hard work ethic. I don’t just want to be a winner at boxing. I want to be a winner in life.

Who has inspired your career?

My family, who have loved and supported me and never told me my dreams were too big.

You are now a role model for many women in your home country, how does that feel?

I love it and appreciate it because when I was growing up and starting out in boxing I didn’t have a role model or someone to look up to.  I didn’t have anyone that I could go to for guidance in the sport and I took a lot of backlash and had to pave my own way. Now that the way is paved, it’s all about laying down the concrete and it’s an honor to be able to help other girls on the difficult journey. Boxing is a hard sport and I’m proud I can be someone’s role model.

What local charity organizations are you involved with?

I work with the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of America, the New York Athletic Club and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Who is your favorite boxer and why?

Salvador Sanchez, Chavez, and Sugar Ray Leonard.  They all have their own styles and they all did things no one else could do.  I appreciate their boxing and grew up learning from them.

What is your favorite quote?

“If no one thinks you can, then you have to.”

Tatyana McFadden Never Thought She Would Run A Marathon

Refinery 29


Tatyana McFadden attempted her first marathon during college, as a freshman. Like many of us who have thought about attempting a 26-mile race, McFadden was dubious. “I felt, there’s no way I can run a marathon,” McFadden said. She was athletic, yes, but her background was sprinting. Her coach told her to think about running a marathon like this: Just break it down to doing the 400m (McFadden’s usual distance) 100 times or so. “I looked at him like, You’re crazy! But that was the start of something great, and it led me to this moment,” McFadden explains.

McFadden just won her fourth London Marathon — merely a week after winning her fourth Boston marathon — and she’s preparing for the Rio Olympics. Well, technically the Rio Paralympics: The 10-time medalist does all these races in a wheelchair.

McFadden was born with spina bifida (a hole in her spine) and is paralyzed from the waist down. She grew up in a Russian orphanage with next to nothing — not even a wheelchair — and learned to walk on her hands. As you might imagine, that led to some serious upper-body strength. She was adopted by American Deborah McFadden in 1994, introduced to various sports, and eventually came to love wheelchair racing. She made her Paralympic debut in 2004 in Athens at age 15 — and brought home her first two medals.

McFadden’s strength, training, and experience helped her go from those first silver and bronze medals to a gold in London in 2012. But there’s another tool that’s key to her success: her racing wheelchair. “A racing chair, like a pair of running shoes, has to fit perfectly,” McFadden explains. “It’s not like a bike; it’s very different. There are no gears. Our arms are our own gears. However fast you want to go is how fast you’ll go. They’re lightweight, aerodynamic, and very stiff.”


Whether racing on the road, like in the Boston Marathon, or on the track doing the 400m, it’s important that the chair McFadden uses can pick up a lot of speed quickly — and then maintain that speed, even over various road conditions. It’s different from an everyday wheelchair, which is more compact. In a racing chair, McFadden needs to be in an aerodynamic, tucked position, kneeling. The chair has two wheels in back, and one in front.

The wheelchair McFadden and other racers of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team will use is made by BMW, and it features an aerodynamic design, lightweight carbon-fiber components, and a customized fit for each athlete. While BMW has been a U.S. Olympic team sponsor since 2010, this is the first time the automaker has collaborated with athletes on a racing chair. The project started about a year and a half ago, beginning with the team drawing up designs. Then, they worked with athletes such as McFadden to perfect seating positions, angles, and overall ergonomics so the athletes can get the most out of every push with their arms.

In this chair, at this year’s Olympics, McFadden will be tackling every wheelchair event — from the 400m all the way to the marathon. And the chair is key.

“Technology plays a huge role [in race performance],” McFadden says. “You can go anywhere from gold-medal potential to world-record setting.”

McFadden certainly seems poised for success in this speed machine.

Tatyana McFadden Wins 4th London Marathon!

The Daily Illini


Former Illinois athlete Tatyana McFadden won her fourth London Marathon on Sunday just one week after winning her fourth Boston Marathon.

McFadden finished in one hour, 44 minutes, and 14 seconds — just one second ahead of Swiss athlete Manuela Schar.

In 2013, she became the first athlete to win all of the major marathons in the same year, and was able to repeat the feat in 2014.

Despite her prowess in track, McFadden is also recognized as one of the most important competitors on the US Paralympic team. She has medaled 11 times between track and nordic skiing.