Crash Course: Tatyana McFadden was born with spina bifida and has had nothing but obstacles placed in her way, but she has never slowed down in her pursuit of athletic excellence. McFadden is one of the most decorated wheelchair track and field competitors in the United States and she has competed in the Summer Paralympic Games on three occasions. That wasn't good enough for McFadden, who will be competing in wheelchair Nordic skiing in Sochi.
Athletic Profile: McFadden, 24, won three gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, three silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Games as well as another silver at the 2004 Athens Games. She also won bronze medals at Athens, Beijing and London. McFadden also competed on the University of Illinois wheelchair basketball team.
The Backstory: Tatyana was born in Russia with spina bifida and was paralyzed below the waist. She was placed in an orphanage in St. Petersburg and did not have a wheelchair. She walked on her hands for six years. Debbie McFadden, a U.S. Health Department official, found Tatyana while visiting her orphanage on business in 1994. She adopted Tatyana and raised her as a single mother in Baltimore. Shortly after bringing Tatyana home, she enrolled her daughter in a wheelchair athletic club called the Bennet Blazers to help increase her strength. That's where Tatyana started her remarkable athletic career.
Off the Field: Tatyana is pursuing her degree in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois. She works as a national advocate for people with disabilities seeking equal access in all endeavors.
Quote: "Her raw potential as an athlete, regardless of the sport, is in the top percentile. She can match any athlete in the world in terms of the power she can generate and her fitness level."—Adam Bleakney, McFadden's wheelchair racing coach, to the Chicago Tribune.