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America's St. Pete-born Paralympic Star Blocks Out Political Tensions

Published: March 8, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Tatyana McFadden was born in St. Petersburg and grew up in a Russian orphanage before being adopted by a U.S. family and raised in Maryland.
    Photo: Facebook.com

Faced with tensions between her birth country and the nation that turned her into one of the worlds top Paralympians, Russia-born U.S. athlete Tatyana McFadden told R-Sport on Thursday she is trying to block out politics in Sochi.

Russia and the U.S. have been at loggerheads in recent weeks over the crisis in Ukraine, with American officials and lawmakers threatening sanctions against Russia, which backed ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Im here just to compete and Im here for myself and Im here to represent Team USA, said McFadden, a cross-country skier who was born in St. Petersburg and grew up in a Russian orphanage before being adopted by a U.S. family and raised in Maryland.

Its about concentrating on my results, my skiing and being really happy to be here. Its absolutely gorgeous and Im really, really pleased the venue is absolutely wonderful, she added.

McFadden, 24, is a triple Summer Paralympics gold medalist in wheelchair track racing, but has spent the last year and a half in training to compete as a Winter Sports athlete in Sochi.

McFadden said she of course feels a special connection with competing in Russia, and the Games mark a personal watershed for her.

This is where I was born, but my home is in America. Im really excited and my familys going to be here, said McFadden, who was born with spina bifida. My birth moms going to be here, the orphanage director, my cousins, so Im really quite excited that theyre all going to be here. Its the first time that theyre going to be able to see me in live action.

She is ranked 14th in the world in cross-country.

McFaddens teammate Oksana Masters has a similar background; born in Ukraine but representing the U.S. in cross-country skiing and biathlon in Sochi.

Im not here to worry about the politics, Masters, ranked 11th in cross-country, told R-Sport, adding that tension had not reached the Paralympic village.

I think its a pretty happy family, she said. Everyones really fine, were playing air hockey together. Its a pretty fun environment to be around, meeting new athletes and I think the politics doesnt come into it."

Masters, also 24, was born with multiple disabilities linked to radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster and raised in an orphanage in Ukraine before being adopted by a family from Kentucky, where she took up sport, going on to win rowing bronze at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

Masters first competitive event of the March 7-16 Paralympics is the 6km sitting biathlon Saturday, before she and McFadden tackle the 12km sit-skiing a day later.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the clubs website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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