Louisville paralympian uses determination - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville paralympian uses determination, spirit to go for gold

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Oksana qualified for six different cross country or biathlon events and will represent team USA and Louisville, Kentucky in the Sochi Paralympics Games. Oksana qualified for six different cross country or biathlon events and will represent team USA and Louisville, Kentucky in the Sochi Paralympics Games.
The rowing tandem team of Masters and Jones earned a bronze medal for the duo at the London games in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls. The rowing tandem team of Masters and Jones earned a bronze medal for the duo at the London games in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls.
In December of 2013, at the 2013 International Paralympics Committee World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, Masters won her first medal. In December of 2013, at the 2013 International Paralympics Committee World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, Masters won her first medal.
Oksana qualified for six different cross country or biathlon events and will represent team USA and Louisville, Kentucky in the Sochi Paralympics Games. Oksana qualified for six different cross country or biathlon events and will represent team USA and Louisville, Kentucky in the Sochi Paralympics Games.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If the name Oksana Masters is familiar it may be because she is quickly becoming an athletic Louisville legend, plus she and her former US Marine rowing partner Rob Jones became one of the biggest stories at the London 2012 Paralympics games.

"I can't believe the things she does," Oksana's mother Gay Masters said proudly.

Her mother has been amazed by her daughter's spirit and determination since she adopted her at the age of 7 and brought her home to Louisville from the Ukraine.

"She's a child that if you told her no she had to make it yes," laughed Masters. She continued sharing stories of her childhood and the determination that has her in her second Paralympics games. 

When Oksana arrived in Louisville her mom set up a swing set for her to play on, but after Oksana continued to fall off the play set she told her daughter, "Maybe you need to have thumbs to be able to hang on and play."  She explained to her daughter she could always find something else to do. 

Gay Masters explained what Oksana did next, "She learned to hand walk across our swing set with only fingers and no thumbs. Not being able to do it was not an answer she was going to take. She got someone else to help her get up there and she showed me she could do it."

That attitude has served her well. The rowing tandem team of Masters and Jones earned a bronze medal for the duo at the London games in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls. It also earned Masters the title of U.S. Rowing Female Athlete of the Year for 2012. Now the 24 year old is reaching for a different goal or a different gold.

"She only started skiing in December 2012," sounding surprised herself about her daughter's accomplishments as she boasted. 

Just a little over a year in skis Gay Masters said of Oksana, "She's qualified to ski six races!"

Oksana qualified for six different cross country or biathlon events and will represent team USA and Louisville, Kentucky in the Sochi Paralympics Games. 

"She's gonna do five events. Two of which she's bronzed medaled in at world," Masters proclaimed.

Oksana is not sure she wants to take on the longest biathlon event. The length of the biathlon in question will be decided in Sochi. Oksana will be competing despite the difficulties she faces being a bilateral above the knee amputee.

"There's a lot of technological issues. Those knees break, feet break," Oksana's mother said in the voice of a worried mother.

"She survived a lot. She has so many birth defects that the only explanation is probably some kind of exposure in uteri to radiation," Masters explained.

What Oksana's mother exposed her to here in Louisville was much more powerful than anything in her life so far. Always there to cheer her on, cheer her up and see her make it through anything she decided to conquer.

Masters stressed to Oksana, "You know the only person you're going to disappoint is yourself. You're not going to disappoint anybody else. You're doing more than anybody ever expected you to do."

In December of 2013, at the 2013 International Paralympics Committee World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, Masters won her first medal. She won a bronzed medal in the 5-kilometer race. At the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Nationals, Oksana Masters won three of the four events she competed in. Her list of national magazine and television stories, medals and awards are beginning to far outnumber what some would call her disabilities.

"She did not have the weight bearing bone between her knee and foot on either side.  Her fingers were fused at birth and her toes were fused at birth. She had six of them. She had five fingers but no thumbs.  We found out she has a horseshoe shaped kidney so she just has one kidney," Masters listed one by one.

"If you watch her closely when she's skiing, they have to tape her poles to her hands even with the wrist loop that you use. She would lose it. She would lose the pole," Masters explained. Masters doesn't expect her daughter to lose the race. Whatever happens she will be there to cheer her on in Sochi.

NBC and NBCSN will combine to air 50 hours of television coverage for March's Sochi 2014 Paralympics winter games, starting on March 7 with the opening ceremony. It will be followed by daily coverage of all five Paralympics sports in the Sochi program, before the games' closing ceremony is broadcast on March 16. 

Proud as an NBC peacock Maters exclaimed, "That's unprecedented. It's about time."

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