Contest | My Warrior is Oksana Masters- Steemit ශ්රී ලංකා | @mike15 | The path from a orphanage
20 years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that 8-year-old Oksana Masters - 90 centimeters tall, 16 kilograms in weight, no thumbs on her hands and deformed legs - would be included in the list of the best athletes in the world according to the TV company " NBC ”( NBC ), and her portraits will be exhibited at the train stations.
However, Masters, now 30, is likely to be the most visible and popular athlete at the Paralympics this month in South Korea. She has appeared in advertisements for companies such as Toyota and Proctor & Gamble, which highlight her strength and resilience, as well as other rare qualities of an athlete who managed to win medals at both the Winter and Summer Games. Mikaela Shiffrin, her friend, alpine skiing star and Olympic gold medalist, recently posted a photo on Instagram wishing her good luck.
The Masters 'emergence as a brilliant and highly paid star on the United States Olympic team shows how athletes' previous lives - and the hype they can generate on social media and traditional media - can be just as important as those competitions. in which they participate.
Few athletes have a backstory as dramatic and inspiring as Masters, which has already been featured in Sports Illustrated and has posed nude for ESPN's Magazine.
According to Brant Feldman, agent of the Masters - he also represents other athletes willing to give anything for Masters' sponsorship portfolio - she wants to show people like her that they can still dream about anything, even if if they have no legs. “The support from these companies allowed her to spread her message here,” he stressed.
At the Masters Games themselves (she does not have both legs) she competes in cross-country skiing and plans to take part in six starts. This is a huge burden for an athlete. However, Masters, who has also competed in the Paralympic Games in London (rowing), Sochi (cross-country skiing) and Rio (cycling), is well prepared for this.
Oksana Masters was born in 1989, and at birth she had serious physical defects, most likely caused by radiation contamination that arose in 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. After Masters was born, her parents abandoned her. She spent her first seven and a half years of her life in a precarious orphanage system in Ukraine characterized by poor nutrition and emotional and physical abuse. Older orphans bullied other children, and in addition, the orphans were exploited by adults.
Okesana Masters doesn't like to focus on her suffering, but she remembers well the day her mom saved her. She did not go to bed for a long time and waited for her new mother, but her arrival was again postponed due to some bureaucratic procedures in Kiev, and then her teacher forced her to go to bed.
When Oksana ended up at the Masters' home in Buffalo, she was almost eight years old, she was very small and thin. Soon she began to gain weight, grow and get used to American life, but she still had a number of serious medical issues to solve.
Masters was born with five fused fingers on both hands and no thumbs. Her left leg was 15 centimeters shorter than her right, and her legs were also devoid of bones that could support her weight. She underwent numerous operations, some of which were unsuccessful. Doctors will later discover that she is missing part of her stomach, as well as some of the muscles in her arm and ligaments. Her teeth turned out to be without enamel, and in the orphanage they simply kept her when they pulled out her teeth without anesthesia. She came to the United States with inflammation of four teeth and a fear of dentists.
One day, according to Gay, her daughter saw another child swinging while holding onto the top bar of a swing. Oksana also wanted to do this, however, with her fingers fused and in the absence of a thumb, she could not grab the crossbar. “I put her down and told her, 'This is what you need your thumbs for,” said Gay Masters.
However, there were still a lot of problems - surgical operations in order to divide her fused fingers and create thumbs; an amputation of part of her short leg at age nine and part of her other leg at age 14 with the promise of improved mobility with prostheses, and a move to Louisville to be closer to her grandfather.
Oksana Masters did not easily get used to the new school, to her new body and prostheses, and sometimes she had to deal with difficult memories of being in an orphanage. Her mother forced her to play sports, including rowing in a group for children with disabilities.
Oksana Masters became interested in sports and began to achieve success in rowing. In 2011, she partnered with Rob Jones, a former Marine who lost both legs a year earlier in an anti-personnel mine explosion. Masters and Jones won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, after which she became actively involved in international competitions.
However, rowing was just the beginning. After London, Oksana met Eileen Carey, the ski coach of the United States Paralympic team, and she persuaded her to try her hand at the Winter Games.
Oksana began training in Colorado, where she fell in love with winter sports, as well as Aaron Pike, a high-level wheelchair athlete from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was also invited to cross-country training camp.
Shiffrin, who met Masters during a commercial shoot for Visa in New Zealand, said she immediately became a fan.
However, nothing scares her, and she intends to participate in biathlon competitions on Saturday, and only six starts. “I’m not chasing medals,” Masters wrote on her Instagram page. “I’m chasing my dream, and I want to represent my country with dignity, this is the dream of any girl who was told that she was too young to be an athlete. , for any girl who was told that it would be impossible to return from her injury and participate in the Olympic or Paralympic Games. "
According to Masters, she plans to compete in these Games as she usually does in all competitions. When she sees the clock counting down to her start, she takes a deep breath. “I say: 'I - exhale - strong. I'm strong. "And then I just start."