An American skier, who suffered birth defects due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, has won the gold medal in the Winter Paralympics. Oksana Masters’s story is certainly an example of ‘Ability beyond Disability’. The Paralympian said she was “on cloud nine” after the win, Hindustan Times reported.

Born in Ukraine in 1989, Masters suffered life-long impairment due to the disintegration of a reactor explosion at the Chernobyl plant in erstwhile Soviet Union. It was a safety test that went wrong, causing a huge explosion that sent clouds of radioactive materials floating over Europe.

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Masters was born with six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand and no thumb. Her left leg was six inches shorter than her right. When her own family abandoned her, she spent her childhood days in three different orphanages until the age of seven. Later, she was adopted by an American woman and shipped off to the United States.

Due to Masters’ birth defects, doctors decided to amputate both her legs. She also had had multiple rounds of reconstructive surgery done on her hands

But defying all odds and smiling right back at her disabilities, Masters decided not to be caged in the impaired body. Passionate about sports, she chose skiing as her main area of expertise. The Paralympian also excels in rowing, biathlon and cycling.

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“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 champion 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 has given a stellar performance at the Pyeongchang Paralympics. Besides the gold, she has also won a silver in biathlon and a bronze in long-distance cross-country skiing. She had also won silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, and a bronze in rowing at the London 2012 Summer Paralympics.

The grit and determination finally paid off. We salute Oksana’s zest for her loved sport and wish her all the best. Way to go!

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Feature Image Credit: Hindustan Times

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