Tatyana McFadden

A Maryland athlete accomplished a feat this year that has never been equaled, and it wasn't Michael Phelps. In November, Tatyana McFadden, a 24-year-old paralympic athlete from Atholton, became the first person -- man or woman -- to win four major marathons in a calendar year: Boston, London, Chicago and New York.

Ms. McFadden, who is an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida, a condition that left her paralyzed from the waist down. When she was adopted at age six, she was badly ill. Her mother, Deborah, introduced her to swimming. By high school, she was suing -- successfully -- to compete against able bodied peers. This is what a gifted athlete she is: She took up cross country sit-skiing last winter, won a national championship and is now headed to the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Russia.

( MIKE SEGAR, REUTERS / November 3, 2013 )

A Maryland athlete accomplished a feat this year that has never been equaled, and it wasn't Michael Phelps. In November, Tatyana McFadden, a 24-year-old paralympic athlete from Atholton, became the first person -- man or woman -- to win four major marathons in a calendar year: Boston, London, Chicago and New York. Ms. McFadden, who is an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida, a condition that left her paralyzed from the waist down. When she was adopted at age six, she was badly ill. Her mother, Deborah, introduced her to swimming. By high school, she was suing -- successfully -- to compete against able bodied peers. This is what a gifted athlete she is: She took up cross country sit-skiing last winter, won a national championship and is now headed to the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Russia.

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