The Guardian writes about one of the most famous Paralympics, a woman with an amazing destiny. Oksana Bondarchuk was born in 1989 in Khmelnitsky. The girl was born with defects, which, most likely, were the result of radiation after the Chernobyl accident: legs of different lengths, the absence of shin bones, fused fingers and six toes on each leg. Later, doctors discovered that she was missing part of her stomach, some of the muscles in her arms and ligaments, and there was no enamel on her teeth.
Her parents left her at birth, and she grew up in Ukrainian orphanages, amid psychological and physical abuse. For example, she later recalled that her teeth were pulled out without anesthesia. When she was seven, Oksana was adopted by the American Gay Masters, a speech therapist by profession, and the girl moved to the United States. In the next few years, she was forced to get used not only to the new environment around her, but also to the new body: she underwent several operations, separating the fused toes and partially amputating both legs in order to make prostheses in the future.
Teaching her daughter to sports, her mother enrolled her in rowing, in a special group for children with disabilities, and Oksana suddenly turned out to be a talented athlete. In 2012, at the Paralympic Games in London, she won bronze in rowing, and then, due to back problems, she left the sport and began to master others. Now Oksana Masters also has seven gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in cross-country skiing and biathlon.
The Tokyo Masters gold in the cycling race is all the more remarkable because three months ago she had a tumor removed from her thigh bone, and her participation in the Olympics was in question. However, she was used to trouble. A few weeks before the 2018 Winter Paralympics, Masters slipped on the ice during training and sprained her elbow, but managed to recover and won five medals.
Now Oksana Masters is a full-fledged star with sponsorship contracts from Toyota, Proctor & Gamble, Viza, Nike. In 2012, the American sports magazine ESPN The Magazine included her nude in a special issue of nude images of athletes, and last year Masters won the Laureus Prize in the category "Athlete of the Year with a Disability."
In addition, she released a biography in which, among other things, she spoke about the traumatic details of life in an orphanage. “I just thought I could help other girls, other children living in orphanages who don't know how to heal,” Masters said. - That's what sport gave me - the opportunity to heal, release negativity, find and rediscover myself. Of course, some episodes of my story will stay with me forever. But I feel that I have to share, because I am one of those lucky ones who got out of the orphanage. "