Boston Marathon winner continues historic run

CLARKSVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- Like anyone, Tatyana McFadden has her doubts. Questions often run through this wheelchair athlete's mind.

"Can I physically do this?"

"I think I'm crazy, I don't even know if I should be doing it."

"My arms just feel stiff and I feel like I just couldn't make it up those hills."

"Those hills" that she referred to were at this years Boston Marathon.

"It was an extremely tough marathon - lots of climbs, you hit heartbreak hill, and you're not done climbing yet before you get to the finish, my arms were absolutely exhausted," said McFadden, the Clarksville, Md. native.

Still, she won... Again.

It was the second straight year McFadden, 25, won the women's wheelchair title at the Boston Marathon. But because of last year's bombing, she says this year's marathon was different. She ran for Martin Richard, 8, and his family. Martin was killed in the 2013 bombing.

"It wasn't so much about who is gonna win the race, it was just about a community helping others to get to the finish line," explained McFadden.

While she has amassed 14 world championship titles, 11 paralympic medals and is a world record holder, the last two years have been, perhaps, even more impressive. She has won her last six marathons. Those recent races are not just any marathons, they're some of the most difficult in existence. Boston, Chicago, New York and London - the "World Series of Marathons."

No other athlete has ever won those four in a single year. McFadden won all four last year and, so far, two - Boston and London - this year. She plans to race in Chicago and New York this fall.

"I've had an incredible past few years," said McFadden.

Oh yeah, she also found time to win a silver medal in cross-country skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Perhaps even more impressive, McFadden only picked up skiing a little more than a year before the 2014 games.

She admittedly didn't even have skis. What she did have was the drive to overcome a new challenge.

"It was fun because it was something new and something I had to really start over in," she said.

Competing in Sochi, Russia was a sort of full circle for McFadden as she got the opportunity to compete in front of her biological family for the first time in her life. McFadden, born with Spina Bifida, spent the first few years of her life in a Russian orphanage.

"They've never seen me physically in person. They've seen me on social media and in newspapers but not in person. It has always been a dream of mine," admitted McFadden.

At age six, she was adopted by an American family.

"I had surgeries on my legs because they were atrophy behind my back and the doctors said to my mom she's very sick and she probably has a few years to live," she said.

It was a new country, a new family and a new wheelchair -- it was her first.

"It was like a new pair of shoes, I could go anywhere just like anyone else," said McFadden.

But she has gone further than most everyone else. She has overcome doubts and defied limitations with no plans of slowing down.

"Anything you like to do you have to practice at it and you have to enjoy the pain almost," she said. "I think the doubt came in because I have such high expectations of myself and I love competing and I wanted to see just how far I could push my body."

While she pushes herself, she inspires, not just those with disabilities, but anyone with a dream.

"We all have a dream that we want," said McFadden. "It takes a lot of successes and failures but it inspires us to be something better."


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