Top 50 Moments of 2017: No. 15 – McFadden’s magnificent Worlds

US wheelchair racer dominates London 2017 despite surgery three months earlier 17 Dec 2017 By IPC

When Tatyana McFadden crossed the finish line to win the women’s 800m T54 at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain, in July, she looked invincible.

The 28-year-old had immediately taken an early lead, speeding off at the gun to leave her rivals in her wake before going on to clinch her fourth gold medal of the Championships.

It was hard to believe the American had, just three months earlier, undergone multiple surgeries to treat severe blood clots in her legs that at one point she thought might threaten the end to her phenomenal Para athletics career.

Indeed, in the pre-Championships press conference just two days before competition began, McFadden revealed how much of a “tough year” she had endured, stating:

“In February I had blood clots on both legs and I had three operations between February and April. All of them failed, so I have had to try other therapeutic ways. I have had injections just before London.

“I feel I'm at around 90 percent (of full fitness). All three doctors have been shocked how I have bounced back. Two weeks after surgery I ran the Boston Marathon and my doctor said I was insane.

"But I really love wheelchair racing and I love the competitive drive. I did everything to make the team. It would have been hard to be on the sidelines.”

After seven races and five consecutive days of competition, McFadden came away with gold in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m T54 to become the most successful female Para athlete of the Championships. Even illness and injury seemingly cannot stop the American from rising to the top.

McFadden’s outstanding achievements at London 2017 – she also set new Championship records in the women’s 200m, 400m and 1,500m T54 – mean she secures 15th place on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.

McFadden went on to win the Chicago marathon in October – her seventh consecutive victory in the US city - and speaking after that race she reflected on her remarkable success on the track three months earlier, saying:

“I always had that worry in the back of my mind – was it over? Could I come back this year? How much would I have to miss? There were a lot of questions because it was so unpredictable.

“I knew it was going to be very, very difficult, especially looking at the competitors (at London 2017).

“But I trust my coach 100 per cent and my training. I just took it race by race, seeing what happened and what my body would allow me to do. I knew that was going to be the hardest part – to come back.”

With seven Paralympic titles, 15 world gold medals and over 20 major marathon wins to her name, there’s no denying Tatyana McFadden is one of the greatest wheelchair racers in the world. Her achievements this year only serve to underline that fact.