10 Facts about Wheelchair Racer Tatyana McFadden

If you haven’t heard of Tatyana McFadden, you will soon. Tatyana is an athlete who is taking over the wheelchair racing world. Here are 10 fast facts to get to know her.

  1. Tatyana is an 11-time Paralympic medalist. Ten of those medals are from Summer Olympics track events (three of them Gold!) She earned her other medal in cross-country skiing during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
  2. Tatyana was born in Russia, paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida.
  3. She spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage without a wheelchair or any adaptive equipment. She was eventually adopted by her American mother and brought to America.
  4. In high school, school officials wouldn’t allow Tatyana to race in track events against able-bodied athletes. The school believed her wheelchair was a safety hazard and gave her an unfair advantage in racing. In 2005, Tatyana and her mother successfully sued her county school system to allow her to race alongside her fellow classmates. The lawsuit is recognized as helping to pass the Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, requiring schools to allow students with disabilities to participate in athletics with able-bodied students.
  5. She’s in an athletic class all her own. Tatyana is the first and only man or woman (able-bodied or disabled) to win the “Grand Slam” by placing first in four marathons in the same year. Tatyana’s first place finishes were in Boston, Chicago, New York, and London. Her first Grand Slam was 2013, her second in 2014, and she is expected to earn a third in 2015.
  6. This year Tatyana has already placed first in the Boston and London Marathons. Way to go!
  7. In addition to being an athlete, Tatyana is also a philanthropist. The last two years, Tatyana has run the Boston Marathon as part of Team MR8. This special competitive team raises money for the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, which supports Boston area athletic, community, and educational programs in remembrance of Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013.
  8. At the 2015 London Marathon, Tatyana got to meet Prince Harry (Can you say ‘jealous’?).
  9. Tatyana is currently a graduate student studying at the University of Illinois. The university has one of the most comprehensive adaptive athletic programs in the country, which Tatyana takes total advantage of.
  10. Right now, Tatyana working to turn her unique story and inspiring life lessons into a series of children’s books.

You can follow Tatyana on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Wheelchair Sports at Magee, including our wheelchair racing team, click here.

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