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About MeOksana

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About Me

I'm a coffee drinker, animal lover, and world traveler with a passion for sports. I truly believe that if we dream, we can achieve... Especially when there's a good cup of coffee in your hand. I lived the first seven and a half years of my life in orphanages, imagining how it would feel to achieve the success I always knew I could reach.

Growing Up Anything But Ordinary

I was born in Ukraine in 1989. The location and time of my birth have significance because of the catastrophic events that occurred 3 years earlier, during the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster. No one could have known that a routine systems test at the plant would have huge consequences when my birth mother and I fell in its path.

My Birth

The radiation had interesting effects on my development in-utero. I was born an otherwise healthy baby, but had significant birth defects to my limbs and a few of my organs. I was born with six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand and no thumbs. My left leg was six inches shorter than my right one and both of my legs were missing weight-bearing bones. Last but not least, my knee floated in my C-shaped left leg. The medical term for one of the diagnosis is Tibia Hemimilla.

My Adoption

I was given up for adoption from birth because my birth defects were going to require lots of medical help. After living in 3 different orphanages, I was adopted by a wonderful American woman whom was a single parent and moved to New York. My birth defects ultimately required that I have both legs amputated; the left at age 9 and the right at age 14. I’ve also had multiple reconstructive surgeries to both of my hands. Soon after, my mother and I moved from Buffalo, New York to Louisville, Kentucky when I was 13.

Igniting A Passion For Competition

At age 13, I became interested in rowing after an impromptu introduction to the sport. When I was on the water, I began to feel a new sense of freedom and control that was taken from me so many times throughout my past. I found out quickly the more I pushed myself, the stronger, faster and more in control I became. My body responded to pain with ever-increasing strength and purpose. I pushed the water and it pushed back.

My Partner

I met my rowing partner, Rob Jones in 2011. Our boat felt right from the first time we practiced together. There was an instant connection in the way our rowing motions matched one another so naturally in just the first hour of rowing with each other. Our coach used to joke, “It was like we had been rowing together for years.” We trained like crazy, and in 2012 , we took home a Bronze medal in rowing at the London Paralympic games.

Beyond Rowing

The transition from Adaptive Rowing to skiing was easy because both sports target the same muscle groups. After 14 months of learning how to ski, I qualified for the 2014 U.S. Paralympic team in Sochi, Russia. I qualified for all three Nordic cross-country skiing events and all three biathlon events. Thanks to an amazing team of coaches and our wax tech’s to prepare me for the games, I was able to bring home a Silver and a Bronze Medal back home for USA.

A New Sense of Rush

In the summer, I transitioned to hand cycling for a few reasons. I had a back injury I was trying to get healed up, and I also thought it would help with my skiing. Skiing, unlike rowing, has many tactical elements. I didn't know how to race with tactics and I didn’t know how to choose the best lines. I was used to “putting my head down” and pulling as hard as I could for 1km. Hand cycling seemed like the best choice to help me maintain my fitness and teach me new racing tactics. And after trying it for the first time, I fell in love with the speeds I could reach that other sports couldn’t. I found a new sense of “rush.”

New Challenges

I love new challenges and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I truly believe with the right amount of support, hard work, dedication and belief in one’s self, anyone can make anything happen and make their dreams come to reality.

Second Chances

Because I am so competitive and hate losing, I believe sports was always in my blood. I am so thankful I have been given a “second chance” in life through my amazing family and the opportunity to fulfill my passion and hunger for racing and competing.

skiis

Nordic Skiing

Oksana is a multiple medal-winning athlete and Paralympian in Nordic skiing, competing in the 1km sprint, 5km, 10km and 12km events. She has competed in the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, 2014 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championships, and various World Cup events. In total, Oksana has claimed nine top-3 finishes over her career, including a Silver and Bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games.

skiis

Nordic Skiing

Oksana is a multiple medal-winning athlete and Paralympian in Nordic skiing, competing in the 1km sprint, 5km, 10km and 12km events. She has competed in the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, 2014 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championships, and various World Cup events. In total, Oksana has claimed nine top-3 finishes over her career, including a Silver and Bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games.

bike wheel

Cycling

Oksana had been struggling with back issues in the summer of 2014 as a result from the physical strain of rowing, and made the decision to pursue yet another summer sport. Hand Cycling, similar in mechanics to Nordic Skiing, utilizes Oksana’s muscular shoulders and core. Over her short cycling career, Oksana has won two Bronze World Cup medals and a Bronze medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Worlds. With this medal, the United States has qualified for a position at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Oksana is in training independently in Champaign, IL and will report back to the Nordic ski team in the winter.

bike wheel

Cycling

Oksana had been struggling with back issues in the summer of 2014 as a result from the physical strain of rowing, and made the decision to pursue yet another summer sport. Hand Cycling, similar in mechanics to Nordic Skiing, utilizes Oksana’s muscular shoulders and core. Over her short cycling career, Oksana has won two Bronze World Cup medals and a Bronze medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Worlds. With this medal, the United States has qualified for a position at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Oksana is in training independently in Champaign, IL and will report back to the Nordic ski team in the winter.

oars

Rowing

As one half of the rowing team, “Team Bad Company,” Oksana has had the opportunity to travel and compete around the world. Oksana was named U.S. Rowing’s Female Athlete of the year in 2012, when she claimed a Bronze medal in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games, in Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Sculls with her partner Rob Jones. Prior to qualifying, Oksana and Rob also won a Gold medal in the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup II.

oars

Rowing

As one half of the rowing team, “Team Bad Company,” Oksana has had the opportunity to travel and compete around the world. Oksana was named U.S. Rowing’s Female Athlete of the year in 2012, when she claimed a Bronze medal in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games, in Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Sculls with her partner Rob Jones. Prior to qualifying, Oksana and Rob also won a Gold medal in the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup II.

rifle

Nordic / Biathlon

Nordic Biathlon is a winter sport combining cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Originally an exercise for Norwegian soldiers in training, it is a challenging sport that combines resilience, focus and strength. Oksana has competed in 6km and 10km biathlons at both the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and the IPC Nording Skiing World Championships. Her best finish to date is Silver in IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany 2016.

rifle

Nordic / Biathlon

Nordic Biathlon is a winter sport combining cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Originally an exercise for Norwegian soldiers in training, it is a challenging sport that combines resilience, focus and strength. Oksana has competed in 6km and 10km biathlons at both the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and the IPC Nording Skiing World Championships. Her best finish to date is Silver in IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany 2016.

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