Oksana Masters tells her own story in Players' Tribune article

07/10/2017 11:29 AM

Oksana Masters found her sports passion in the city of Louisville. She also persevered through some of the most difficult years of her life in the Derby City.

In an article this morning in the The Players’ Tribune, the multi-medal winning Paralympic athlete tells her own story. The whole story of her adoption from post-Chernobyl Ukraine, the fostering of her competitive spirit by her mother Gay Masters, and how she found her sports passion and escape in the city of Louisville.

Masters starts by detailing her adoption from a run-down orphanage in Ukraine. She recalls going from a building that barely had electricity, to a Walmart in the United States with more toys and food than she had ever seen in the first six years of her life.

From there, Masters describes the physical complications resulting from radiation near the nuclear meltdown. She was born without a kidney, parts of her stomach, and poorly developed bone structure in her legs that would ultimately result in needing them amputated.

Her first leg was amputated at the age of nine. She writes, “… maybe it’s because I was still so young, but it wasn’t something I really thought about too much after it happened. I was back outside, running around with my friends as soon as my mom let me.”

Masters then details her move to Louisville at the age of 13, and her mother pushing her to try adaptive rowing as her new competitive outlet.

“I didn’t like the idea of being put into an “adaptive” group at all. None of the other sports I had played came with the word “adaptive” attached to them. Did they want me to join just because I was missing a leg? It just didn’t feel right to me.”

Rowing ultimately turned into her passion, but her second leg amputation put that career at risk. At 13, she spent five months rehabbing at Shriners in Louisville, and recovering from an intensive surgery.

She did get back in the boat though, and Masters has gone on to win multiple medals in the Paralympic Games, as well as claiming World Championships in Nordic Skiing and the biathlon. She is also already eyeing the 2020 games.



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