By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
12:26 PM EDT, September 4, 2012
Tatyana McFadden, a junior at the University of Illinois and two-time Chicago Marathon wheelchair winner, has added a first Paralympic gold medal to an already impressive career resume.
McFadden romped to victory in the 400 meters Monday at London’s Olympic Stadium. Her time, 52.97 seconds, was a personal best and beat Hongjiao Dong of China by 1.46 seconds.
The 23-year-old from Clarksville, Maryland, had won three silvers and a bronze at the 2008 Paralympics plus silver and bronze at the 2004 Paralympics, when she was just 15.
"This is my third Games and I was just itching for a gold medal,” McFadden said.
Born with spina bifida, which left her paralyzed below the waist, and adopted from a St. Petersburg, Russia orphanage at age 6, McFadden has a workload at the London Paralympics befitting her nickname, ``Beast.” She will also race the 100, 800, 1,500 and marathon. No wheelchair athlete ever has done such a range of distances at the Paralympics.
Tuesday, she had the fastest time (1:47.66) in the semifinals of the 800. The final is Wednesday.
McFadden won the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in her debut at that distance. She won it again last year.
"I was known to be a sprinter," McFadden said after her second Chicago triumph. "No one thought I would do this well in the marathon."
Her sister, Hannah, 16, made the team in the 100 meters. They are the first sisters on a U.S. Olympic or Paralympic track team.
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