Balancing Being A Student-Athlete

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Tatyana was born with spina bifida. She was abandoned by her birth mother in an orphanage in Russia, and was adopted and brought to the US when she was 6 years old.

“When I came over from Russia, I was very, very sick, and the doctors said that I only had max of 2-3 years to live.”

Tatyana’s mother didn’t believe the doctors, and told them they were wrong.

“Anything that comes in my way now is not bad because I’ve already suffered through the worst,” shares Tatyana reflecting on her early childhood years. Tatyana’s attitude has certainly paid off, as she’s seen much success in her life, particularly in the sport of wheelchair racing. 

“Sports has been my life. Ever since I was 6, it was my passion."

Tatyana is featured in a short day-in-the-life documentary by BP, and she is followed around the University of Illinois. At the time, she was a junior and was training for the 2012 Paralympics in London. “My typical day is very, very busy,” explains Tatyana. She has classes in the morning followed by training in the afternoon. “It’s hard being a student athlete. Time management is very important,” she shares.

She talks about the camaraderie she shares with the student athletes she trains with – how training and competing with them makes her better and stronger. Tatyana believes that hard work and dedication are necessary components to success. 

“I hate the word disability, because there’s nothing disabled about us. We have accomplished more than an average person."

Tatyana has gone on to win several medals in wheelchair racing in multiple summer Paralympic games. 

What wheelchair sport do you love? Share your passion with us by sending in an article or video of you participating in your sport for a chance to be featured on AbleThrive!

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