Oksana Masters Becomes Fourth American Woman to Win Gold at Summer and Winter Paralympics
Oksana Masters is making history following her gold medal win at the Tokyo Paralympics.
On Tuesday, the 32-year-old won her third career gold medal and first para cycling medal after a solid finish in the women's H4-5 time trial at the Fuji International Speedway. Masters clocked in at 45:40.05 followed by silver medalist Sun Bianbian of China and bronze medalist Jennette Jansen of the Netherlands.
As a dual-sport athlete, Masters becomes the fourth U.S. woman — and sixth American —to win a gold medal in both the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The three other Paralympians to reach this milestone are Alana Nichols, Allison Jones, and Kendall Gretsch.
Masters — who was born in Ukraine with multiple radiation-induced birth defects from Chernobyl that led to the loss of both her legs — has represented Team USA in the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 Paralympics in three different sports: rowing, cross-country skiing and hand cycling, respectively.
Following her gold medal-winning race, she opened up about her resilience throughout her athletic career.
"All the stuff that was ingrained in my younger self, are also the reasons why I've been able to, with the support of so many people behind me, get to where I am today," said Masters, according to ESPN. "I'm hoping that my journey is helping inspire that next young girl."
The athlete continued, "It's not about the medals. It's not about anything else except leaving a legacy, being one example for that young girl to see."
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Since her Paralympic debut, Masters has now earned nine medals — three gold, three silver, and three bronze.
Ahead of the Tokyo Games, Masters spoke to PEOPLE about training for both the Summer and Winter Games with her boyfriend and fellow Paralympian Aaron Pike. "When I met Aaron, my racing career just elevated, and I became better as an athlete and a person," she said earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Pike, who has competed in wheelchair racing, biathlon and cross-country skiing competitions, celebrated his girlfriend's victory. "You've fought through so much for this! I'm so damn happy for you right now!" he wrote on Instagram Story, also calling her the "best in the world."
The couple, who has been together for seven years and lives in Champaign, Illinois, intend to leave Tokyo, turn right around, and train for the Paralympic trials for Beijing 2022.
"It's the first time and probably the only time that winter and summer will be within one year," said Masters. "I feel like all the Paralympians, and I prove the impossible is possible, and I'm just taking that as another opportunity to be a part of history."
For the Beijing Games, Masters plans to compete in Nordic skiing, an event she's won 13 world medals in.
To learn more about all the Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Paralympics air on NBC until September 5.