Aug 31, 2021 - Sports

U.S. winter Paralympics star Oksana Masters wins 1st summer Games gold

 Oksana Masters with her Tokyo Paralympics cycling gold medal on Tuesday.
American Oksana Masters with her Tokyo Paralympic Games women's H4-5 hand-cycle time trial gold medal in Japan on Tuesday. Photo: Team USA/Twitter

American Oksana Masters won gold in the women’s time trial H4-5 hand-cycling event at the Tokyo Paralympic Games on Tuesday.

Why it matters: She's the fourth U.S. woman, and sixth American overall, to win gold medals at the summer and winter Paralympics.

  • The 32-year-old Ukraine-born athlete won eight Paralympic medals across three sports at the winter Games, mostly in Nordic skiing — including three golds.

The big picture: Masters was born with a condition believed to be linked to her birth mother's exposure to radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She was left in an orphanage and had both of her legs amputated above the knee as a child.

  • Masters began rowing at age 14, after being adopted by an American woman. She won bronze at the London 2012 Paralympics with rowing partner Rob Jones before switching to Nordic skiing.

What she's saying: Masters said what was important wasn't winning medals, but her legacy and "helping inspire that next young girl," per ESPN.

  • "All the stuff that was ingrained in my younger self, are also the reasons why I've been able to, with the support of so many people behind me, get to where I am today," she said.
Go deeper