BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Born with a paralyzing disorder and left in an orphanage by her birth mother, the road to Rio is a story of triumph for Tatyana McFadden.
Her athleticism is awarded with praise: gold medals, trophies and most recently an Espy for “best female athlete with a disability.”
But back home in Howard County, Maryland, Tatyana McFadden is just—well–Tatyana.
“I just like to go to the beach. I’m really quiet. I just like to lay low,” she said.
The 27-year-old’s road to this moment has not be a smooth race.
Abandoned at an orphanage, in the former Soviet Union, she was born with Spina Bifida, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.
Adopted by American Debororah McFadden and brought back to Baltimore, Tatyana was put in sports, where she flourished landing her at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
And this month, Tatyana will head to her 4th Paralympic Summer Games, but this time, she’s looking to make history.
“I’ve qualified for 7 events and so, I am hoping to make all the finals for the 7 events, but hopefully, maybe being in the top three,” she said.
Defending three of her gold medal Paralympic titles, she will be competing with girls who are specialists in each of the 7 events.
One of those girls is Tatyana’s younger sister, now two-time Paralympian, Hannah McFadden.
“I want her next to me at that starting line, because she’s the best of the best and I think any athlete, you want to race against the best,” said Hannah.
“I’m a very proud mom. Somebody once said, ‘Who are you rooting for, Tatyana or Hannah?’ I said, ‘It’s now team McFadden,’” Debororah laughs.
Tatyana is making a name for herself, being mentioned alongside Olympians, not just with Paralympians.
“It’s definitely huge. I think it shows our sport is growing,” she says.
A growing sport and a growing celebrity for Tatyana–awarded an Espy, an award some of the greatest athletes never receive.
“I mean, it’s such a prestigious award to be nominated for and to finally win, is absolutely amazing. I mean, everybody knows about the Espys. It’s a fan vote, so I have really amazing fans who have supported me along this journey since I started.”
This year alone, Tatyana has won both the London and Boston Marathons’ wheelchair division. She’s hoping to bring back 7 medals from Rio. She is scheduled to compete 9 of the 11 days during the Paralympics.