Chernobyl nuclear disaster victim 'on cloud nine' after Pyeongchang Paralympic gold

At birth she had six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand and no thumbs, and her left leg was six inches shorter than her right.

Published: 14th March 2018 03:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2018 03:56 PM   |  A+A-

Oksana Masters of the U.S. celebrates after winning the Cross-Country Skiing Sitting Women's 1.1km Sprint Final. | AP

By AFP

PYEONGCHANG (SOUTH KOREA): An American skier who suffered birth defects due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and spent her early life in orphanages said Wednesday she was "on cloud nine" after winning Winter Paralympic gold.

Oksana Masters was born in 1989 in what is now Ukraine, and was then part of the Soviet Union, three years after a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl plant, sparking the world's worst nuclear disaster.

At birth she had six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand and no thumbs, and her left leg was six inches (15cm) shorter than her right.

Her family gave her up and she lived in three different orphanages until the age of seven, when she was adopted by an American woman and taken to the United States.

Due to the severity of her birth defects, doctors decided to amputate both her legs, and she also had multiple rounds of reconstructive surgery on her hands.

But despite her disabilities, Masters was determined to get involved in sports. As well as skiing, she also competes in rowing, biathlon and cycling.

On Wednesday she won her first Paralympic gold, in the 1.1km cross-country sprint skiing at the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics.

"I feel like I'm cloud nine right now, I've been chasing this gold medal for such a long time," said the 28-year-old.

"This is the most amazing medal of my career."

Athletes with leg impairments compete in specially adapted sledges in Paralympic skiing events.

Masters had already won a silver in biathlon and a bronze in long-distance cross-country skiing at the Pyeongchang Paralympics. 

She also won silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, and a bronze in rowing at the London 2012 Summer Paralympics.

Masters said she believed the dark days of her childhood had helped her become a champion athlete.

"I am so happy I have been able to channel all the things that I went through when I was younger and make them into something positive," she said.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened when a safety test went wrong, causing a huge explosion that sent clouds of radioactive materials floating over Europe.

Stay up to date on all the latest Sport news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp