Ukraine-Born Paralympian Has Emotional Response To Winning America’s First Gold

Ukraine-born Oksana Masters won America’s first gold at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing on Saturday.

“I’m speechless. I have no idea what to think right now. I honestly don’t think it’s hit me. I can’t believe what just happened,” the 32-year-old athlete, who was adopted from an orphanage in Ukraine by her American mother when she was 7, said minutes after her victory in the women’s sitting 6 km sprint biathlon.

Masters, who was born with tibial hemimelia believed to have been caused by her birth mother’s exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, now has five Paralympic gold medals to her name.

On Saturday, Masters explained on Instagram how it had “been difficult to find my passion and desire to compete at these Games amid the war my home country of Ukraine is enduring.”

“I feel selfish, helpless, and guilty for being here,” she wrote. “However, I have always been so proud to be Ukrainian, felt so much pride at the sight of the Ukrainian flag, and now more than ever, I am the proudest to say I am Ukrainian. My mom always said my Ukrainian heart made me resilient; it made me a fighter.”

“While the Ukrainian people are fighting for their homes and peace, I want to make every start line and finish line mean something much bigger than a race or a result,” Masters added. “I want to help make sure no child is forgotten. I know how it felt to be a child in Ukraine with disabilities where the resource for medical help was slim to non-existent – more now in the midst of a war.”



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