Oksana Masters

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Oksana Masters
Oksana Masters mixed sculls final 2012 crop.png
Oksana Masters
Personal information
Birth nameOksana Alexandrovna Bondarchuk
Born (1989-06-19) June 19, 1989 (age 29)
Khmelnytskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
ResidenceLouisville, Kentucky
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) (2012)
Weight122 lb (55 kg) (2012)
WebsiteOksana Masters athlete bio
SportAdaptive rowing, Para-cycling, Cross-country skiing, Biathlon
Event(s)Mixed Sculls
TeamU.S. Paralympic
PartnerRob Jones
Coached byJustin Lednar, Bob Hurley, Roger Payne, Brad Alan Lewis
Achievements and titles
Paralympic finals2012 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 also a part of the U.S. Nordic skiing team at the 2014 Winter Paralympics and the 2018 Winter Paralympics. She won two Paralympic medals in 2014 and five Paralympic medals in 2018, including two gold.[3] She also competed at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in para-cycling.

Early life[edit]

Oksana was born with several radiation-induced birth defects,[4] 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.[5] 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.[5][6]

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.[6]

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,[7] and graduated from the city's Atherton High School in 2008.[8]

Rowing career[edit]

Masters began adaptive rowing in 2002 at age 13,[5][6] shortly before her right leg was amputated.[5] 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.[6]

In 2011, Masters and teammate Augusto Perez placed second at the Adaptive World Championship trials.[6]

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.[5][6] Masters and Jones called themselves "Team Bad Company"[9] and proceeded to win both the Adaptive World Championships Trials and the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta by substantial margins.[6]

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]

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.[10]

Cross-country skiing career[edit]

Following her medal win in rowing at the 2012 Paralympics, Masters took up cross-country skiing. At the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, she won a silver medal in the 12 km Nordic and a bronze medal in the 5 km Nordic. She also placed fourth and eighth in two biathlon events. Masters sustained a back injury during this time and gave up rowing as a result. She took up cycling as part of the recovery process.[11]

Masters won her first Paralympic gold medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in the cross-country skiing women's 1.5 km sprint classical event after experiencing multiple setbacks. She had injured her elbow three weeks prior to the Games and had also withdrawn from a biathlon event the day before after falling during the race.[12][13] She won five medals total from those Games, three in cross-country and two in biathlon. She won the gold medal in the cross-country skiing's 5 km sitting event and the bronze medal in the cross-country skiing's 12 km sitting event. She won silver medals in the 6 km sitting biathlon event and the 12.5 km sitting biathlon event.[14][15][16]

Masters has twice been 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 Paralympic Games in Rio, where she placed 4th in the road race event and 5th in the timed trial.[11]

Media appearances[edit]

Masters' life story has been featured in a number of media sources, including Spirit, Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine[6] and Sports Illustrated.[5] 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. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Michael (August 27, 2012). "The Marine And The Orphan". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Jackman, Tom (August 30, 2012). "Lovettsville's Rob Jones to compete in rowing in London Paralympic games". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  10. ^ [1] Paralympian Oksana Masters pursues cycling spot – USA Today Sports Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Oksana Masters".
  12. ^ "2018 Paralympics: After setbacks, Oksana Masters wins gold". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  13. ^ "Oksana Masters claims her maiden Paralympic gold at Pyeongchang 2018". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "2018 Paralympics: Oksana Masters' attitude, strength make her medal favorite in six events". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  16. ^ "Oksana Masters, still a 'baby' in biathlon, poised for Paralympic gold". NBC Olympics. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  17. ^ "Oksana Masters".
  18. ^ "About Me: Oksana Masters". Archived from the original on 2016-08-05.
  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.