Oksana Masters

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Oksana Masters
Oksana Masters mixed sculls final 2012 crop.png
Oksana Masters
Personal information
Birth name Oksana Alexandrovna Bondarchuk
Nationality American
Born (1989-06-19) June 19, 1989 (age 28)
Khmelnytskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Residence Louisville, Kentucky
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) (2012)
Weight 122 lb (55 kg) (2012)
Website Oksana Masters athlete bio
Country USA
Sport Adaptive rowing, Para-cycling, Cross-country skiing, Biathlon
Event(s) Mixed Sculls
Team U.S. Paralympic
Partner Rob Jones
Coached by Justin Lednar, Bob Hurley, Roger Payne, Brad Alan Lewis
Achievements and titles
Paralympic finals 2012 Summer Paralympics: Trunk and arms mixed double sculls – Bronze, 2014 Winter Paralympics: Nordic Ski Cross Country – Silver & Bronze and Biathlon, 2016 Summer Paralympics: Cycling
Updated on March 17, 2018.

Oksana Masters (born June 19, 1989) is a Ukrainian-born American Paralympic rower and cross-country skier from Louisville, Kentucky.[1] At the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, she won the first ever United States medal in trunk and arms mixed double sculls.[2] She was named to the U.S. Nordic skiing team for the 2014 Winter Paralympics.[3]

Oksana Masters claimed her maiden Paralympic gold medal in her Paralympic career after several setbacks, clinching a gold medal in the cross-country skiing women's 1.5 km sprint classical event during the 2018 Winter Paralympics.[4] This was also her fourth medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.[5]

Oksana also claimed a silver medal in the women's 6km sitting biathlon event during the 2018 Winter Paralympics, which is also her third Winter Paralympic medal.[6][7] She also ended her medal jinx in the Paralympic biathlon event after claiming a silver medal in the biathlon event.[8]

Early life[edit]

Oksana was born with several radiation-induced birth defects,[9] including tibial hemimelia (resulting in different leg lengths), missing weight-bearing shinbones in her calves, webbed fingers with no thumbs, and six toes on each foot.[10] She was abandoned by her birth parents at a Ukrainian orphanage where she lived until age 7. After she turned 7, Oksana was adopted by Gay Masters, an unmarried American speech therapy professor with no children of her own.[10][11]

After moving to the United States in 1997, both of Oksana's legs were eventually amputated above the knee—her left leg at age eight and her right leg at age 13—as they became increasingly painful and unable to support her weight. Oksana also had surgery to modify her innermost fingers on each hand so they could function as thumbs.[11]

When she arrived in the U.S., her mother was a professor at the University at Buffalo; she moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 2001 when her mother took a faculty position at the University of Louisville,[12] and graduated from the city's Atherton High School in 2008.[13]

Rowing career[edit]

Masters began adaptive rowing in 2002 at age 13,[10][11] shortly before her right leg was amputated.[10] She continued afterward and began adaptive rowing competitively. In 2010, she competed at the CRASH-B Sprints, setting a world record in the process. She was also the first adaptive sculler to compete in the Indianapolis Rowing Club "Head of the Eagle" regatta, winning the women's open singles event in the process.[11]

In 2011, Masters and teammate Augusto Perez placed second at the Adaptive World Championship trials.[11]

Due to a back injury, Masters has given up competitive rowing since winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. She has since taken up para-cycling and cross country skiing.[14]

Rob Jones and Oksana Masters at the 2012 Adaptive World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia

In preparation for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Masters teamed with Rob Jones, a United States Marine Corps veteran who lost both legs to an IED explosion in Afghanistan.[10][11] Masters and Jones called themselves "Team Bad Company"[15] and proceeded to win both the Adaptive World Championships Trials and the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta by substantial margins.[11]

On September 2, at the 2012 London Paralympics, Masters and Jones finished third—winning the first-ever United States medal (bronze) in trunk and arms mixed double sculls with a final time of 4:05.56. They finished behind China (gold) and France (silver) while just edging out Great Britain.[2]

Cross-country skiing career[edit]

Following her medal wins for rowing at the 2012 London Paralympics, Masters took up cross-country skiing. At the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, she won a silver medal in the 12km Nordic and a bronze medal in the 5km Nordic.[16] She sustained a back injury during this time and has since given up rowing as a result. She has taken up cycling as part of the recovery process. [16] Masters has been twice nominated for an ESPY for her Nordic skiing in the category of Best Female Athlete with a Disability.[17]

Cycling career[edit]

Masters has won two Bronze World Cup medals and a Bronze medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Worlds. [18]She competed in hand-cycling events in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where she placed 4th in the road race event and 5th in the timed trial.[16]

Media appearances[edit]

Masters' life story has been featured in a number of media sources, including Spirit, Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine[11] and Sports Illustrated.[10] She was also named one of the "11 Hottest Paralympic Athletes" by msn NOW,[19] was named one of ten U.S. athletes to watch by The Guardian,[20] and posed nude for ESPN The Magazine's annual "Body Issue".[21] Apple featured her in a "Making a difference. One app at a time." video, where she explains how her life changed with iOS apps.[22]


  1. ^ USRowing (2012), Oksana Masters, archived from the original on March 5, 2014, retrieved September 11, 2012 
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Stephen (September 5, 2012). "Lovettsville veteran wins bronze in Paralympics". Loudoun Times-Mirror. London: Times Community Media. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ U.S. Olympic Committee (February 21, 2013). "2014 U.S. Paralympic Team Named". TeamUSA.org. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ "2018 Paralympics: After setbacks, Oksana Masters wins gold". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  5. ^ "Oksana Masters claims her maiden Paralympic gold at Pyeongchang 2018". Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  6. ^ Parker-Pope, Tara (2018-03-09). "Oksana Masters's Road From a Ukrainian Orphanage to Paralympic Stardom". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  7. ^ "2018 Paralympics: Oksana Masters' attitude, strength make her medal favorite in six events". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Oksana Masters, still a 'baby' in biathlon, poised for Paralympic gold". NBC Olympics. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  9. ^ Holm, Jeremy (August 25, 2012). "Opinion: Let's not forget about Team USA's other half". KSL.com. Salt Lake City: Deseret Digital Media. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Michael (August 27, 2012). "The Marine And The Orphan". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Cengel, Katya. "Oksana" (PDF). Spirit. Southwest Airlines. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Daughter of Louisville physician to go for gold at 2014 Winter Paralympics" (Press release). University of Louisville Physicians. March 6, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ Brownstein, Glenn (March 9, 2014). "Louisville's Oksana Masters wins milestone silver medal in Winter Paralympics skiing". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved March 10, 2014.  (soft paywall)
  14. ^ [1] Paralympian Oksana Masters pursues cycling spot – USA Today Sports Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  15. ^ Jackman, Tom (August 30, 2012). "Lovettsville's Rob Jones to compete in rowing in London Paralympic games". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c "Oksana Masters". 
  17. ^ "Oksana Masters". 
  18. ^ "About Me: Oksana Masters". 
  19. ^ "Meet the 11 hottest Paralympic athletes". msn NOW. August 24, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  20. ^ Parker, Graham (August 24, 2012). "Paralympics 2012: 10 US athletes to watch in London". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  21. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (July 12, 2012). "Paralympian rower bares all for ESPN's Body Issue and reveals "for me, eating is one of the hardest things"". The Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  22. ^ iOS – Making a difference. One app at a time. Retrieved July 7, 2013.