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An Orphan With A Long List Of Birth Defects Defied The Odds And Is Now A Paralympic Athlete

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Oksana Masters spent her life constantly feeling like the world was putting her down. But every time the world pushed down on her, she pushed right back. Today she is a Paralympic athlete and will be competing in two sports in PyeongChang.

Oksana was born in the Ukraine in 1989. She was born with a long list of birth defects, and was immediately put up for adoption. She believes her birth defects may have something to do with the nuclear accident of Chernobyl in 1986, or just being surrounded by nuclear power plants her whole life.

She was born with deformed legs, webbed toes, webbed fingers, no thumbs, one kidney, and no tooth enamel.

She was in and out of three orphanages throughout her childhood. She was constantly let down by false hope of adoption, until she was seven. She first met her future mother, Gay Masters from the US, when she was five years old, but she was unable to adopt her because of the strict out of country adoption rule.

In 1997, the paperwork went through, and Oksana was finally allowed to be adopted by Gay, and they returned to the US.

"I felt just like Annie when she walked into Daddy Warbucks’ house. Everything was so exciting! I had never seen so many toys, and didn’t even know what to do with them," Oksana told Cosmopolitan Magazine.

At first, Oksana didn't speak English, so communicating was very hard for her and she had to communicate using hand signals. She eventually learned English.

When Oksana was 13 years old, she had to have both of her legs amputated, and had to use prosthetics.

She began rowing at an adaptive rowing club, where she instantly fell in love with the sport, and began training seriously.

After years of training, she and her coach, Rob Jones, brought home the bronze metal from the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

"I remember looking up at the stadium, and seeing my mom smiling down at me. She was the reason I was there. I ran up to her, gave her the biggest hug as she held back tears. 'I told you,' she said. 'I told you that you do could do it. You did it.'" She told Cosmopolitan.

A year later, during a race, Oksana began to feel pain in her back, which ended up being a severe lower back injury that ended her career in rowing.

She then met a ski coach who insisted she try cross-country skiing. She was scared to try it, but did anyway. She then, of course fell in love with the sport.

She is now competing in the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games, in cross-country skiing, and a biathlon.

Oksana pushed herself through times that would be unimaginable to most of us. Everything she wanted, she pushed towards until she got it, no matter the obstacles in her way.

"I know I've always had the option to feel sorry for myself, but a theme of my life has definitely been just pushing through the bullshit. I really wish people did that more," she told Cosmopolitan.

After everything she has been through, at 28 years old, Oksana is now a Paralympic medal winner.