The legend of Paralympic star Tatyana McFadden seems to keep growing by the day. Already a proven world-class wheelchair athlete, Tatyana recently traveled to France for the IPC Athletics World Championships and once again etched her name into the record books.

Culminating with her victory in the 400-meter race July 28, Tatyana became the first person ever to win six individual gold medals at the games. She ended up sweeping all the T54 titles from the 100-meter to the 5,000-meter.


Last summer she took home three gold medals at the Paralympics and then this spring she won both the Boston and London marathons. It's no wonder that I saw Tatyana listed in the July issue of the Sun Magazine as one of the 50 Women To Watch - the magazine's selections as the area's movers and shakers for 2013.

Tatyana, who is only 24 years old, was the youngest of the 50 individuals and I have a feeling her name's going to be popping up on lists like this for years to come.

Also on the list representing Howard County were Valerie Gross, CEO and President of the Howard County Library System, and Erika Brannock, who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Celebrating First Tee

I recall being invited to the opening of "First Tee" at Fairway Hills Golf Course 12 years ago and how almost everyone in attendance, including celebrities Vernon Gray and Dick Talkin, believed it was the start of something great. How right they were.

The program, designed to introduce the game to young kids who otherwise would not be playing golf for economic reasons, has flourished. It's done so well with its core values of teaching things like responsibility, respect, sportsmanship, integrity and perseverance that it's now begun being introduced into our elementary schools as part of the physical education curriculum.

"We hope to (eventually) be in all 40 elementary schools," Associate Director Dave Nesbitt said. This program provides students from kindergarten through fifth grade with instruction on the basics of grip, stance, swing technique and safety.

There is a Minority Students Golf Segment now where black students get golf training for four weeks during the summer. There is former Wilde Lake and University of Maryland star George Bradford providing some structured practices three sessions a year. There is also a Metro Tour where players from the ages of 12-17 play nine holes completive golf on courses in the District of Coumbia, Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard County and Baltimore City.

Sitting down and having a conversation with Dave, a highly successful coach at Wilde Lake for many years, really opened my eyes. A lot has changed over the past 12 years, but when it comes to the First Tee program's core values, they haven't changed one bit.

Remembering George Mandos

I try to keep up with the death of athletes in our community, but here's one that I missed. George Mandos, a native of Salonika, Greece, died almost a year ago on June 18, 2012 and I was recently made aware of it by Milt Kline. Milt knew George well and in fact competed with him at the Maryland Senior Olympics, where he won numerous medals, and at the Ohio Senior Olympics. He competed until the age of 90.

George passed away as a result of a stroke at the age of 97. The former resident of Running Brook, George was a member of the National Basketball Team for 10 years, was a shot put and swimming champion and apparently was quite the mountain climber. I have written about many great athletes passed and present, and I have to rank George Mandos as one of the best ever.