Oksana Masters, a Ukrainian-born athlete, wins the first U.S. Gold at Beijing Paralympics

Masters, who is a biathlete as well as a cross-country skier won the women's sitting sprint in biathlon, her fifth career Paralympic medal.

Oksana Masters, a Ukrainian-born athlete, wins the first U.S. Gold at Beijing Paralympics

Oksana Masters started the 2022 Beijing Paralympics with the first U.S. Gold Medal of the Games.

Masters, who is a biathlete as well as a cross-country skier and biathlete, won the women’s biathlon sitting sprint. This was Masters' fifth career Paralympic gold and 11th overall medal from Summer and Winter Games. The bronze medal was won by Kendall Gretsch, an American who had previously won the sitting sprint four years ago.

Masters could race seven times in nine days of competition for medals through March 13.

With her eighth, she moved into a tie with Sarah Will for third place on the U.S. women’s career Winter Paralympic medallist. Masters could have passed this record if Sarah Will and Sarah Billmeier were Alpine skiers.

Masters holds Paralympic gold medals for biathlon, cross country skiing, and cycling. Six months ago, she won two gold medals in cycling at the Tokyo Games. Gretsch was awarded the Tokyo Games triathlon gold medal.

Masters, 32, was born in Ukraine and suffered from a number of birth defects that were believed to have been caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. After seven years of wandering between orphanages, Masters was adopted by an American single mom.

Masters posted "It's stars and stripes that keep my Ukrainian heart beating" on their social media prior to the Games. "I have always been proud of my heritage. And I cannot wait to race for those two countries that make up my whole.

The U.S. was the top Winter Paralympic medalist in total medals (36) and gold medals (13) for 2018, the first time since 1992.

The Winter Paralympics features 78 medal events in six sports: cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, biathlon and snowboarding. More than 700 athletes are expected to compete, including 67 Americans.

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