Paralympic athlete Oksana Masters is already what you might call prolific. Masters has won eight Paralympic medals across three different sports, and this summer she’ll aim to medal in a fourth in Tokyo.
But on top of training for para-cycling (a sport that she’s competed in, but hasn’t yet medalled in), Masters has also had to find time to train for skiing. She competes in both cross-country and biathlon in the Winter Games, and – because of the quirks of pandemic scheduling –- those Winter Games will be played just six months after Masters competes in the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
Rather than focus on one, Masters is aiming to compete at both.
“I love pushing myself into uncomfortable situations because I truly believe that’s where … I learn the most and I learn new things about myself,” Masters told Bob Reinert. “It’s just incredible how the body and the mind automatically — if you let [them] — start adapting to the situation you’re in if you stay with the right perspective.”
If anyone knows about being uncomfortable, it’s Masters. Her first Paralympic medal came in rowing when she earned bronze at the London Games in 2012. Rowing had long been an outlet for Masters, dating back to the first years after her legs were amputated, but a back injury in 2013 forced her out of rowing permanently.
From there she transitioned to cross-country skiing, a sport she fell into “almost by accident” she told ESPN last year. She won a silver in 2014, and four years later – competing at Pyeongchang with a dislocated elbow – she took home five medals, including two gold.
Continuing her dominance on the snow would not be surprising. And although a para-cycling medal just 6 months earlier might stun the rest of us, you can bet that Masters will be expecting it. After all, after recently trying out some running blades, she started mulling over what the 2024 Games might hold for her. A running event? Maybe the long jump?
“Sometimes,” she wrote for ESPN, “all you need is to hear that things are possible.”