Paralympians...We Salute You

Oksana and Aaron on X-Wear 

When we fall in love with Olympic athletes it’s usually not due, at least entirely, to their prowess in their sport. Usually it has something to do with the heart and personality that they bring to the game. The Olympians who truly capture our imaginations and our hearts are those who have gone the extra distance, truly thrown themselves into their craft, and are ready to show it.

One such athlete is Oksana Masters, a Paralympian who competes in more sports at the Olympic level than most people even know the rules to.

Oksana began her journey at an orphanage in Ukraine. She was given up for adoption by her birth parents who couldn’t handle her severe physical disabilities, likely caused by leftover radioactive material from Chernobyl. She was adopted at the age of eight by an American mother who taught Oksana to funnel her physical frustrations into athletics. The first sport that really drew her attention was rowing. She would sit at the Erg for hours a day, developing her upper body strength. As a double leg amputee she needs immense upper body strength for competition.

Since beginning her journey she has competed in the Paralympic games in London, Rio de Janeiro, Sochi, and Pyeongchang. Yes, Oksana Masters is one of the elite few that competes at the Olympic level in both summer and winter games. She is adept at any sport that she takes an interest in.

Oksana has also been fortunate enough to find love in the midst of her intense training schedule. As you might suspect, she has fallen in love with a fellow Paralympian, someone who can truly understand the hectic nature of her schedule, Aaron Pike.Their relationship started slowly, Oksana recounts, with a lot of flirting back and forth between training sessions. After three years and two Olympic games behind them, they are now living together in Bozeman, Montana where the weather permits them to train for their winter sports nearly year round.

The Paralympic games, now a main facet in the Olympic community and with the Olympic fan base, was only added to the roster of Olympic events in South Korea’s 1988 Olympic games. Now it is a widely celebrated set of events that generally immediately follow the Olympic games. In order to compete in the Paralympics you need to be an athlete who is overcoming significant physical setbacks caused by a wide range of specific diseases and disorders. The disability has to cause some form of physical limitation in the sense that it reduces muscle performance, limits mobility, impairs vision, or if the athlete has some form of limb deficiency.

The Paralympic games have even had some of the same controversies that the Olympics are no stranger to. Steroid use has touched all corners of both the traditional Olympics as well as their counterpart. In an even more startling event, the Spanish Men’s Basketball Intellectually Disabled team was cited for having allowed non disabled players onto their team. These players pretended to have disabilities that they did not, in fact, have. Such controversy will always exist on the Olympic stage. With tensions so high and dreams so big it makes sense that some people will break rules and lie to get the gold.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to a typical paralympic athlete. These incredible competitors come from a wide range of backgrounds and disabilities. This is, bar none, the biggest meeting of amazing disabled athletes on the world stage. Unfortunately, despite this incredible display of athleticism and overcoming adversity, the Paralympic Games have had to fight for media coverage since their inception. In fact, it wasn’t until relatively recently that the Paralympic Games were even broadcast in a similar manner to the Olympic Games. In the United Kingdom it is a legal mandate that the Paralympic Games be broadcast on the same public networks with the same amount of coverage as the Olympics. A law like this encourages viewers to see the Paralympic Games as holding as much importance as the traditional games.

We at X-Wear.com, are in awe of the dedication and determination of all of our Paralympians. You are the embodiment of our motto #GetOutThereAndDoSomething and we salute you.

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