‘My place is here’: how American adopted a Ukrainian orphan wins the Paralympic games

Oksana masters was standing on the podium at the winter Paralympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. The national anthem sounded, and her heart was filled with pride. This was not the first medal athletes, but she was special. About it writes BBC.

‘Мое место здесь’: как удочеренная американкой украинская сирота покоряет Паралимпийские игры

Screenshot: Youtube/TSN

Then she won silver in cross-country skiing, and the gold was won by Ukrainian Lyudmila Pavlenko.

Masters, a native of Ukraine. She was born in 1989, three years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Because of the influence of radiation, the girl has a serious disability.

In Sochi, Oksana played for the United States, where he grew up. She was adopted and raised by a single mother. Therefore, the arrival in the country bordering her homeland, has become a special incentive.

“There was a feeling that I went back to its roots — says the girl. If I got silver, and the gold medal”.

However, the “gold” Oksana was to come. Four years later, two of the five medals she received in Pyeongchang, was gold. And in 2020 it goes to Tokyo on his fifth Paralympic games.

Oksana masters told reporters, the incredible story of his life. It all began in the Ukrainian orphanage where the girl lived up to seven years.

Hereinafter in the first person.

My memories are different. Warm and not. Remember the sunflower fields. Maybe I was too young to remember, but they looked huge. And there was a plum tree. We were undernourished, so had to steal plums and collect seeds from the sunflowers.

Every time I see sunflowers, awaken memories. What you write about Eastern European orphanages is in General true. I well remember a sharp pain in my stomach, constant hunger.

I was abandoned immediately after birth. I was born with six toes. All five fingers fused together, was not great at all. Were still knee hemimelia: the joint is bent and not holding the leg.

On the right hand no biceps missing some organs. I have one kidney, and the teeth have no enamel. When I arrived in the United States, found that the only thing that can destroy tooth enamel before birth, is radiation.

Doctors attribute this to the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. I was really close to the scene of the accident, and radiation levels exceeded the permissible limits for years after the explosion.

In the village where we lived, was also a powerhouse, which often failed. Every time the background radiation was increased, was a policeman and told to close Windows and not to go outside.

I recently watched the TV series “Chernobyl”. Something I already knew. I knew that the government was trying to hide the true scale of the disaster. All this is very sad and numerous deaths, destroyed homes, crippled lives. This part of the country will never be the same as before.

However, I do not want to call himself the result of what happened, something terrible. There is no point in dwelling on it. We should try to see the potential and possibilities even in the worst.

When I was five, the orphanage Director called me into his office and said, “I want to show you one photo. That is your future mother.” I looked at the picture. From there, I smiled at the woman — she had warm eyes and smile.

She never saw me, she liked my photo. And she decided to adopt me. Since then, every day, until she came to the orphanage, I constantly asked the Director: “Can I see mom?”

‘Мое место здесь’: как удочеренная американкой украинская сирота покоряет Паралимпийские игры

Screenshot: Youtube/TSN

Sometimes when I behaved badly (and I was a difficult child), the Director said, “photo of mom today will not see. You’re a bad girl and not listen. So it won’t come to you.” Adoption lasted two years, and I started to believe it. But her picture did not give me rest.

She fought for me for two years. And then I came and saw how I live. It was winter, the room is frozen batteries, and workers of the orphanage were scraping ice off the floor in the hallway.

Adoptive mother Oksana masters taught at the University at Buffalo (new York). She knew that the left leg of her daughter will have to amputate. Shortly after moving to the U.S. the girl had surgery. In 2001 the woman received a new position, and the family moved from Buffalo to Louisville (ky). A year later, she amputated the other leg above the knee.

I didn’t understand what was different from the other, until I came to the United States.

I was diagnosed with growth retardation due to malnutrition. At eight years old, my height was 86 cm and a weight of 16 kg. the Average for a three year old child in the United States.

Now when I already adult, I understand how difficult it was for my mother. A single woman was almost impossible for someone to adopt or adopt. She’s been through an incredible amount of psychological tests. To answer many uncomfortable questions. Why are you alone? What is wrong with you? Where is your husband?

I didn’t realize what she had to face before you meet me. This is proof that she is a strong person with a pure heart. The one who makes the family other people’s children is a gift of heaven. But what my mom did, it’s an even higher level.

Mom knew that my left leg will have to amputated — she was 15-17 cm shorter than the right. It’s been difficult. But when I turned 13, the doctors said that can’t save and right leg. So it also had to say goodbye.

I very long could not come to terms with it. But the pain in his right leg became unbearable, and I said, “Okay, I’m ready, but under one condition — you leave the knee.”

They did not deny, but on the operating table, said: “We will amputate above the knee”. I was under anesthesia and didn’t understand. But I will never forget my feeling when I woke up in the hospital. I tried to stand up, but the support legs were no more, and I fell backwards. It was really hard.

I understand that the doctors wanted the best. But honestly, the anger and frustration still not letting me go.

Oksana also had multiple surgeries on both hands. 2002 she began rowing. As of 2012, paired with Rob Jones won a bronze medal of the Paralympic games. In 2014 in Sochi, she performed in ski racing.

The first person who offered to take part in Paralympics and international competitions, became Randy mills, Director of club rowing for people with disabilities in Louisville. I don’t like to lose, and he noticed it. I only needed to get the necessary training to reach the appropriate level.

In 2008, I read about the Paralympics, and thought, “God, that’s beautiful!” It was hard for me to imagine that legless people (like me) represented the US at competitions of such level.

At the 2012 Games in London, I realized that my place is here. Since then I dedicated myself to it.

Before this Oksana masters posed in the style of “Nude” for ESPN magazine.

In my childhood I had low self-esteem. It seemed a disaster if what was wrong with my hair, or appeared on the face a pimple in a day when the school photographer is here. Not to mention the fact that cover prostheses of arms and legs was not easy.

And society puts a label on you, even though you don’t consider yourself disabled.

I would not like to the next generation of boys and girls grew up without an idol, which would be an example for them to follow. Each student on the wall hung a photograph of basketball player Michael Jordan.

Why do you think the norm to decorate the walls of someone who was injured in an accident or born with disabilities?

But I don’t like to say so, because it is not limited. This is just a term that society “rewards” to those who looks not like the others.

I think it is better to see once than hear a hundred times. The more you look the speech of paracletos, the faster you get used to it. It is nice to see how growing the Paralympic movement.

Oksana masters won silver and bronze medals at the Games in Sochi in 2014 — both in ski racing. Four years later in Pyeongchang she won the first “gold”. In those two Games with his partner Aaron Rations they received four gold medals. Now masters is preparing to participate in the Bicycle race at the Games in Tokyo. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro to win medals failed.

Aaron is a very patient man. I don’t know anyone who could handle my mess. We spend a lot of time together, can encourage each other in training.

He overtakes me on the descents but on the climbs I leave it behind and shout: “ha-Ha, bye!” We can’t destroy the spirit of competition. If you sit down to play Monopoly, and you’ll win, I do not envy you!

But well, in the training days, there’s a man like Aaron, especially when trying to find any reason not to train. In it I found a best friend, partner and teammate. He’s not just an amazing boyfriend. He really wants other people to experience success, and this he shares with the team.

In Tokyo, my main goal is to win both competitions in which I participate (racing highway race with separate start). I have had enough time to prepare for the Games in Rio because I have finished the ski season, and the transition was only a few months.

Ahead of Tokyo, so I definitely have something to strive for.