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MCFADDEN Tatyana
Sport Para athletics, Para biathlon, Para cross-country
NPC United States   
GenderWomen
Age32
Place of BirthLeningrad, URS
Height1.65 m
Human Interest
Impairment Information
Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
T54
Further Personal Information
Residence
Champaign, IL, USA
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up the sport through the Bennett Blazers programme in Baltimore, MD, United States of America. "I got to try everything. They had chairs for basketball, racing chairs, hand bikes if you wanted to bike, swimming, archery. My parents would drive me every weekend and sit there for eight hours, when I did all those different sports."
Why this sport?
She tried a number of sports at the Bennett Blazers programme but fell in love with wheelchair racing. "Because I didn't receive the medical treatment I needed for the first six years of my life, my parents thought it was really important for me to get involved in sports because they knew that was the fastest way to heal and become healthy. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. I didn't even know what the Paralympic Games were."
Name of coach
Adam Bleakney [personal], USA
Training Regime
"I work out twice a day, six days a week. Some of my workouts are in the gym, some on the track, and some on open road. My coach develops specific plans that I follow for each session."
Senior International Debut
Year
2004
Competing for
United States
Tournament
Paralympic Games
Location
Athens, GRE
General Interest
Nicknames
Beast (nbcolympics.com, 09 Jun 2016)
Hobbies
Charity projects, sport. (Facebook page, 26 Feb 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning medals at the Paralympic Games. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
Most influential person in career
Her parents. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
Hero / Idol
Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc. (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
Injuries
Health issues such as blood clots and surgery disrupted her 2017 season, although she was still able to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, England. (paralympic.org, 15 Apr 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"You have the power to be anything you want to be." (Athlete, 17 Jul 2017)
Awards and honours
In 2021 she was named one of the Power Women of the Year by Women's Running magazine. (womensrunning.com, 08 Jan 2021)

In 2020 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Road Runners Club of America. (tatyanamcfadden.com, 31 Dec 2020)

She was named in the '30 Under 30 Class Of 2017' by Forbes magazine. (teamusa.org, 03 Jan 2017)

She was voted Best Female Athlete of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro by the United States Olympic Committee [USOC]. (paralympic.org, 29 Sep 2016)

She was presented with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The honour is given to the athlete who has performed at an outstanding level and overcome adversity. (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 15 Sep 2016)

She received the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award [ESPY] for Best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2016. (baltimoresun.com, 14 Jul 2016)

She was named the 2015 Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee [USOC]. (olympics.nbcsports.com, 11 Dec 2015)

She received the Juan Antonio Samaranch International Olympic Committee [IOC] Disabled Athlete award in 2015. (insidethegames.biz, 25 Aug 2015)

She was named Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability at the 2015 Laureus Sports Awards. (rio2016.org.br, 15 Apr 2015)

She was named the 2014 Female Para Athlete of the Year by USA Track and Field [USATF]. (insidethegames.biz, 21 Dec 2014)
Other sports
She represented the United States of America in cross-country skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, winning silver in the women's sprint sitting event. (SportsDeskOnline, 27 Feb 2019; teamusa.org, 18 Apr 2016)
Milestones
In 2013 she became the first person to win the Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York Marathon in the same year. She repeated the feat in 2014, 2015 and 2016. (teamusa.org, 21 Feb 2019; insidethegames.biz, 03 Nov 2013)
Famous relatives
Her sister Hannah has represented the United States of America in wheelchair racing, and competed at the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016. (SportsDeskOnline, 15 Apr 2021; teamusa.org, 01 Jul 2016)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (teamusa.org, 15 Apr 2018)
Impairment
She was born with spina bifida and is paralysed from the waist down. "Usually, babies with spina bifida get surgery immediately after birth to ensure the spinal cord and nerves are enclosed and protected, but for me, that wasn't the case. I had surgery at 21 days old. It was a miracle that I survived." (womenshealthmag.com, 11 Jun 2019; Athlete, 17 Jul 2017; bbc.co.uk, 12 Jul 2013)
Other information
DOCUMENTARY
She was one of the athletes featured in the 2020 documentary Rising Phoenix, which detailed the history of the Paralympic Movement as well as following the personal journeys of nine Para athletes, including McFadden. She also served as co-producer of the documentary. "We're trying to have a new perception of inspiration. We want to be called inspirational for the work we put in, the medals we get, or how strong we are, not just because we get out of bed every day. We have to break that stereotype." (womensrunning.com, 08 Jan 2021, 17 Jan 2021)

BLOOD CLOT CONCERNS
In November 2016 she noticed swelling around her legs. Although she was initially unconcerned, the problem worsened while she was at a training camp in California, United States of America, and she was unable to get into her racing wheelchair. She was diagnosed with blood clots, which can potentially cause pulmonary embolism and become fatal. She returned home to Maryland, where she had three operations, but she did not finally solve the problem until August 2017 after visiting a doctor that had been recommended by one of her mother's friends. "They went in and looked at the clots in more detail and realised that my blood was slowing down. Being born with spina bifida I have only one kidney and they theorised there was no open and direct route for the vein blood to travel back to my heart." (bostonmagazine.com, 12 Apr 2018)

MOVE TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
She was born paralysed from the waist down due to spina bifida, and was abandoned at an orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. She did not have a wheelchair, so she learned to walk using her hands. At age six she was adopted by Deborah McFadden, who had visited the orphanage as part of her work as a commissioner for the US Department of Health and Human Sciences. "Lots of people come in and out of the orphanage just wanting to adopt other kids but never a child with a disability. I looked at her [Deborah] and it was just that connection. I told everyone at the orphanage that she was going to be my mum." (The More You Know YouTube channel, 22 Oct 2019; teamusa.org, 01 Jul 2016; Baltimore Sun, 08 Oct 2008)

LEGAL BATTLE
In 2006 her adoptive mother Deborah McFadden filed a lawsuit against the Howard County Board of Education in the United States of America. The board had ruled that while it was fine for Tatyana to practise and travel with her able-bodied teammates, she was limited to racing in events designated for wheelchair athletes. School officials said that allowing wheelchair racers and runners to compete at the same time could cause safety problems and change the nature of the sport. The McFaddens had sought permission for their daughter to compete only at the same time as the other runners, not directly against them. She was eventually cleared to compete in Howard County track meets. Known as 'Tatyana's Law', it was initially used in a few US states but became a national law in 2013. "We decided to file a lawsuit for no money and for no damages, but for the right for equal opportunity for people with disabilities to join high school sports. [I thought] if I didn't do it, probably it won't happen. The next person is going to be suffering. I'm not going to be in Paralympics forever but by the time I leave I want to make sure I left that legacy [in which] the doors have opened for many people." (japantimes.co.jp, 27 Nov 2019; bbc.co.uk, 12 Jul 2013; The Washington Post, 19 Apr 2006)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
She has set up the Tatyana McFadden Foundation, which is part of the New York Road Runners Team for Kids in the United States of America. The organisation aims to support young athletes with an impairment. In addition she has served on the board of directo

Competition Highlights (historical)
Paralympic Games - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
2 2004 100m T54 16.69 
3 2004 200m T54 30.48 
5 2004 400m T54 56.24 
9 2004 800m T54 1:55.15 
6 2008 100m T54 16.62
2 2008 400m T54 53.49
2 2008 200m T54 28.43
2 2008 800m T54 1:46.95
3 2008 4 x 100m Relay T53-54 1:02.16
1 2012 400m T54 52.97
1 2012 800m T54 1:47.01
1 2012 1500m T54 3:36.42
3 2012 100m T54 16.15
9 2012 Marathon T54 1:58:47
2 2016 100m T54 16.13
1 2016 400m T54 53.30
1 2016 1500m T54 3:22.50
1 2016 5000m T54 11:54.07
  2016 4 x 400m Relay T53-54  DSQ
1 2016 800m T54 1:44.73
2 2016 Marathon T54 1:38:44
3 2021 5000m T54 11:15.13
2 2021 800m T54 1:43.16
5 2021 1500m T54 3:28.85
4 2021 400m T54 54.35
1 2021 4 x 100m Medley 45.52
5 2021 Marathon T54 1:40:14
World Championships - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
1 2006 100m T54 16.31
2 2006 200m T54 29.25
2 2006 400m T54 54.25
4 2006 800m T54 1:55.91
3 2011 100m T54 16.83
1 2011 200m T54 29.33
1 2011 800m T54 1:51.10
2 2011 4 x 400m Relay T53-54 3:57.39
1 2011 1500m T54 3:36.20
1 2011 400m T54 54.88
1 2013 200m T54 28.69
1 2013 5000m T54 12:08.07
1 2013 800m T54 1:44.44
1 2013 100m T54 16.42
1 2013 1500m T54 3:34.06
1 2013 400m T54 53.74
1 2017 200m T54 28.08
1 2017 1500m T54 3:25.23
1 2017 400m T54 53.74
1 2017 800m T54 1:47.82
Paralympic Games - Para cross-country
Rank Year Event Result
5 2014 12km - Sitting 43:13.8 
2 2014 1km Sprint - Sitting 2:45.7
6 2014 4 x 2.5km Relay Mixed 29:06.7
7 2014 5km - Sitting 18:34.7
World Championships - Para cross-country
Rank Year Event Result
8 2014/2015 12km - Sitting 43:46.0
6 2014/2015 1km Sprint - Sitting  
7 2014/2015 4 x 2.5km Relay Mixed 34:47.0
9 2014/2015 5km - Sitting 17:08.8
Marathon World Championships - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
1 2015 Marathon T53/54 1:41:14
2 2019 Marathon T54 1:49:42