Oksana Masters won a silver medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 for Paralympic cross-country skiing. She represented USA, but was born in the Ukraine in 1989 just three years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Oksana was born with severe physical defects caused by exposure to radiation. Given up for adoption at birth because her birth defects would require lots of help, Oksana lived in three different orphanages until she was seven years old.
At the age of seven, Oksana was adopted by an American woman, a single mother, and started a new life in New York. “My birth defects ultimately required that I have both legs amputated; the left at age 9 and the right at age 14. I’ve also had multiple reconstructive surgeries to both of my hands. Soon after, my mother and I moved from Buffalo, New York to Louisville, Kentucky when I was 13.”
This is when Oksana first tried rowing. “When I was on the water, I began to feel a new sense of freedom and control that was taken from me so many times throughout my past. I found out quickly the more I pushed myself, the stronger, faster and more in control I became. My body responded to pain with ever-increasing strength and purpose. I pushed the water and it pushed back.”
In 2012, Oksana and her rowing partner Rob Jones won a rowing bronze medal in the London Paralympic Games. After that success Oksana moved to skiing [above], a transfer she says “was easy because both sports target the same muscle groups.” At the 2014 Sochi Games, Oksana won silver and bronze skiing medals.
After Sochi, she tried hand cycling [above] which meant learning new race tactics. “After trying it for the first time, I fell in love with the speeds I could reach that other sports couldn’t. I found a new sense of ‘rush’.”
Oksana is convinced that her love of sports is in her blood. “Because I am so competitive and hate losing, I believe sports was always in my blood. I am so thankful I have been given a “second chance” in life through my amazing family and the opportunity to fulfill my passion and hunger for racing and competing.”
Read more about Oksana’s story.
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