Tatyana McFadden in Marie Claire & honored with Young Women’s Honors Award!

Marie Claire

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 07:  Paralympian Tatyana McFadden poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Bona fides: McFadden won six medals in wheelchair-racing events at the Rio Paralympics. Her trophy case boasts a total of 17 Paralympic medals and 15 World ParaAthletics medals, plus she’s won 16 major marathons.

Backstory: Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida, McFadden, 27, spent her first six years in an orphanage without a wheelchair. “I wanted to be just like all the other kids and go everywhere they were going,” she says. “So I learned how to walk on my hands and to scoot on the ground.” She was adopted at age 6 by an American woman in Maryland.

Sweetest victory: In 2011, she tracked down her birth parents in Russia. Soon after, she learned that the 2014 Winter Olympics would be held there, in Sochi. “I wanted my birth family and my [adoptive] family to [see me compete],” McFadden says. Minor detail: She didn’t compete in any winter sports. But within a year, she’d transformed herself into a cross-country ski racer and went on to win silver.

Role model: “When you think of tennis, you think Serena Williams—I hope to do the same for wheelchair racing.”

Follow her: tatyanamcfadden.com.

Tatyana McFadden races to remove obstacles for the next generation

New York Times

Growing up on a dead-end street in suburbia, Tatyana and Hannah McFadden raced their wheelchairs up, down and all around. Their family challenged cul-de-sac convention, but also fit right in.

Two moms, three children, a grandma and two dogs. A basketball hoop in the driveway. Purple wheelchairs scattered throughout the garage. Sports equipment, and prosthetic legs, stuffed in cramped closets.

“It’s been just such an amazing year,” Debbie McFadden said, standing alongside her daughters on the backyard patio. Dozens of camera phones clicked.

The buttercream on the sheet cake told the rest of the story: “Tatyana & Hannah Go for the Gold!” was written in red script across the icing, and two tiny wheelchairs raced on a fondant track.

The daughters were raised to believe they could do anything, no matter what the physical impairment, and this is what their uncommon determination has wrought: At the Paralympic Games, which begin Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Tatyana McFadden could become the first athlete to sweep every distance in wheelchair racing. She will compete in the 100 meters and the marathon — and everything in between. She could leave Rio with seven gold medals.

Her sister Hannah is racing in three of the same events, including the 4×100 relay. If the McFaddens finish side-by-side on the podium, they will be the first sisters to do so in a Paralympics.

The odds of this? Longer than a marathon, especially given their start. “You know, when Tatyana and Hannah came here, Tatyana was told by doctors at Johns Hopkins she probably wouldn’t live long, and they said Hannah would never be active,” Debbie McFadden told the gathering at their Rio send-off party.

One of the best athletes most Americans have never heard of, Tatyana McFadden may be hard to miss in the coming months. Her Phelpsian medal quest will be a focal point for NBC’s Paralympics coverage — more than 70 hours across NBC’s networks and sports app, compared with six hours of coverage for the London Paralympics four years ago.

“In the U.S., you don’t know about the Paralympics,” said Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee. “You’re going to get to know. Give your people a chance to get to know Tatyana. It will take their minds off the presidential election.”

McFadden’s image appears on more than a million Coke cans. Her orphanage-to-ESPY life story will be told, and retold, in commercials. In the time leading up to Rio, BP became the first United States Olympic Committee corporate partner to sponsor more Paralympians than Olympians.

Now that Michael Phelps has packed up his Speedo and gone home and Simone Biles has clapped her last cloud of chalk into the rafters, will the American public stay for the Paralympics after-party?

“We’re on the cusp of breaking the barriers for Paralympic sport,” Tatyana McFadden said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication, trying to teach society what it means to be a Paralympian, that we’re not any different, that we’re just like the Olympians, with the same training sites, sponsorships, medals and venues.”

Continue reading

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.

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.