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(Rio Paralympics) US wheelchair racer’s bid for 7 golds falls short

RIO DE JANEIRO: US wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden was aiming to win seven gold medals at the Rio Paralympics, in every event from the 100 meters to the marathon.

Her bid for the unprecedented feat didn’t make it past her first final, in the 100. Liu Wenjun of China broke ahead at the start and won Friday in 16 seconds. McFadden closed hard over the final 40 meters, but finished second in 16.13. Li Yingjie, also of China, took the bronze.

“This is one of my hardest races because I’m going from the 100 to the marathon, and so to really focus on this race is quite difficult because I’m going against girls who just do the (100 meters) and the (400 meters) and I knew it was going to be tough because you have team China, who is amazing at the 1 and the 4,” McFadden said.

“I had a bad start, but my execution was amazing and I really just raced with my heart and took in emotions from the crowd.” Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida that left her paralyzed below the waist, McFadden started using a wheelchair at age 6, after being adopted by an American woman, Deborah McFadden.

The 27-year-old McFadden graduated from Illinois, where she joined the wheelchair basketball and wheelchair track teams, making her Paralympic debut in 2004. With this silver, McFadden is a 12-time medalist.

Since hauling in three golds at the 2012 London Paralympics, McFadden had won every race in which she had competed until Friday. Her 20-win streak included three consecutive wheelchair marathon grand slams, and a sweep of the International Paralympic Committee world championship in all six of her individual events, becoming the first woman to accomplish the feat.

McFadden won bronze in the 100 in London and silver in Athens. “With this silver I’m still happy, because in London I got bronze. I’m moving up in the ranks,” she said. “I know I can do the next couple races, so I just have to stay relaxed stay calm and really just believe in myself.”


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