Tatyana McFadden wowed the world on Sunday as she became the first person ever to win three major marathons in one year.
And, she’s done it all from her wheelchair. McFadden was born with spina bifida, which has left her paralyzed from the waist down. Last weekend, she won the wheelchair division of the Chicago Marathon, setting a new record at 1 hour, 42 minutes and 35 seconds.
Tatyana McFadden Wins 3rd Chicago Marathon Wheelchair Division
McFadden also won the wheelchair divisions of both the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon earlier this year. But, she’s not finished yet: she’s now setting her sights on the New York Marathon on Nov. 3.
McFadden doesn’t just have a talent for speed, she has a talent for breaking records, too. She became the first athlete ever to win six gold medals at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in France in July, taking first place in every single race from the 100-meter to the 5,000-meter. She’s also a seasoned Paralympian, boasting 10 medals since she began competing at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Greece.
Rumor has it she’s considering taking up Nordic skiing in the Paralympics in Russia in 2014.
By all accounts, she can’t be stopped. With her incredible marathon victories and her intimidating Paralympic record, McFadden is certainly a world class athlete. But she’s a portrait in courage as well. She’s had no shortage of obstacles throughout her life, including being orphaned in Russia as a baby. From there, she was adopted at the age of 6 and moved to America.
McFadden doesn’t just have a heart for sports, but she’s also passionate about inspiring others to overcome the challenges in their lives. Last May, Womensforum caught up with McFadden, a University of Illinois student, at the Cancer Rock and Roll in Chicago to talk about why it’s important to her to support others in their hardships and how to pursue a life of excellence, no matter the challenge.
Through her difficult beginnings, seemingly insurmountable odds and now her record-breaking victories, she’s learned one of the best lessons life can ever teach: just have fun!