US wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden has already won 17 Paralympic medals. Now she is preparing for Tokyo in the hope of bringing more money home.
Washington- Editor’s Note: The attached video is from the AJC Peach Tree Road Race in July 2021.
Now that the Tokyo Olympics, where the pandemic has been delayed, are over, let’s get ready for the Paralympics.
Tatyana McFadden, one of the top female wheelchair racers who has won 17 medals at the Paralympics, is preparing for her sixth tournament in the hope of winning more medals at Team USA.
However, traveling was not always easy for McFadden.
Considered the fastest woman in the world, McFadden was born with spina bifida, which affects the spine. According to her website, the Paralympic and World Marathon winners are paralyzed from the waist down and she spent the first six years of her life in an orphanage in Russia before being adopted.
At the age of 15, she was the youngest Team USA member to compete in the 2004 Athens Paralympics competition and brought back silver and bronze medals. Despite returning to the United States as a Paralympic medalist, she had to fight for equality along the way, and she is still.
“My advocacy actually started at a really young age,” McFadden said in a telephone interview. “When I returned from the Paralympic Athens Olympics, I was a high school student … and all I wanted to do was be on a high school athletic team. When I wanted to try … they Did not forgive me. “
She added that the team wouldn’t even give her a uniform at the event. When she was given the opportunity to compete, she said the entire event would be stopped for her to race around the track herself.
“I thought,’This shouldn’t be the life for people to participate in high school sports,’” she said, competing with other disabled people like her sister Hannah McFadden.
So McFadden and her mom did something about it. They sued the school for equal participation in high school sports, not for damages.
In the end, they won their proceedings and the promotion of equality paved the way for even more. It eventually became Maryland’s state law, and then federal law. The Tatiana Law was passed by the Obama administration in 2013, requiring schools to allow students with disabilities to participate in interdisciplinary athletics.
“I wanted to make a difference in the Paralympic world by raising that younger generation and having the right to not have to fight for it,” she recalled.
On Tuesday, McFadden boarded a plane attending a training camp to Tokyo prior to the Paralympics. The Paralympics are the same as the Olympics being postponed for a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Related: How to watch the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics
This year is also the first time that US Paralympians have been paid as much as Olympic athletes.
In 2018, it was announced that US athletes would win the same amount of medal performance. The Tokyo Olympics are the first competitions to implement this rule. The US Olympic Commission then retroactively paid a large sum to the 2018 Paralympians.
“I’ve been competing in the Paralympics for 15-16 years and this is the first time I’ve got the same wage,” McFadden said. “That’s my job, right? This is my job. I’m a professional athlete. I think it’s such a turning point because I really feel the value.”
Related: How much is the Olympic gold medal worth?Much less than you think
During the days leading up to McFadden’s trip to Japan, she was thrilled to see how the Paralympics were promoted and represented in parallel with the Olympic Games.
“In Tokyo, we have volunteers wearing shirts with the Olympic and Paralympic logos. It’s great to see both,” explains McFadden. “All the little changes people are seeing. They also say names that weren’t before. I love being part of this journey and part of the change.”
According to the International Paralympic Committee, the word Paralympic is derived from the preposition “para”, which means beside or beside the Olympic Games. “The implication is that the Paralympics are a parallel game to the Olympics and show how the two movements exist side by side,” said the IPC.
“Fighting for sport equality is very important to me, as many people will be fighting for the Paralympics,” McFadden said.
In recent years, sports equality has spread beyond games to commercials and advertising campaigns. Companies like Powerade, with which McFadden has partnered in the “Power In Numbers” campaign, are introducing Olympic athletes and Paralympians.
“Without the support of the sponsor, I couldn’t do that,” she said. “Our sport is so expensive that I won’t be a world champion.”
Wheelchair racing equipment is expensive. According to McFadden, a racing chair alone could cost about $ 9,000, and each of the three wheels would return someone $ 4,000 each. She said the tires were “for $ 115 each and I tried six in a week.”
“In addition, we need housing, we need food, we need travel,” she said. “I couldn’t do that without that support, so it’s very exciting for me to be the first game of equal wages, and many Paralympic athletes definitely find it worthwhile. think.”
“I just want people to know it [Paralympics are] “It’s as exciting as the Olympics, but these athletes are absolutely amazing,” McFadden explained. How fast can you use your arm strength? “
The tournament will be held from August 24th to September 5th.