McFadden Reflects On Sochi, Preps For Marathon Season

March 31, 2014

Just two weeks after winning a silver medal at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, University of Illinois graduate Tatyana McFadden is ready for another year of challenges.

She’ll stop in Washington this week, where she and other athletes are up for honors in the U.S. Olympics Committee’s Awards show.  

But then, she’ll try to add to her marathon ‘grand slam’ of 2013, with the London Marathon just two weeks away.

Born with spina bifida, and not expected to live long, the 24-year old University of Illinois graduate will soon compete again in the London Marathon. She’s just returned from the country of her birth – where she earned a silver medal in the Paralympics. 

"For me, this is my job, being an athlete," McFadden said.  "And I want to do it for as long as possible, (as) my body will allow me too.  Because I love pushing the sport.  I love teaching people about it.  I love showing the sport.  I just absolutely love it."

When she won her silver medal at Sochi, Tatyana had both her adoptive mother, Deborah McFadden, and her Russian birth mother, Nina Polevikova, there to cheer her on. She says that gave her the extra energy needed to win.

Deborah said the Russian media was particularly tough on Nina, having given up her daughter for adoption.

"Tatyana's comment (to the press) was 'no, she's a hero," she said.  "In fact, she gave me life twice.  She gave birth to me, and allowed me to be adopted.  She gave me a chance at living life.  And how hard it must have been for her to make that decision.  For Tatyana, she's got life, and for me, I was adopt the most precious thing of all - her daughter."

McFadden may return to the University of Illinois for graduate school in the fall.  If that happens, she'll be one of two McFaddens particpating in wheelchair track events.  Her sister Hannah, an above the knee amputee who was part of the 2012 Summer Paralympic team, is also slated to attend the U of I.


Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert talks with Tatyana McFadden in the University of Illinois’ Campustown neighborhood Friday, as she prepares for the London Marathon.

Deborah McFadden talks with Illinois Public Media’s Jeff Bossert about her reaction when first learning that daughter Tatyana wanted to add winter sports to her resume.

Story source: WILL