Olympic Dreams

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We are such stuff as dreams are made on.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

AJ-2-TATYANA-McFADDEN-

by Mary Rayis

The Sochi Olympics are a showcase for the fulfillment of dreams. Like many, I have been captivated by the amazing grace and technical ability of tiny ice skater Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia. Although a dark horse behind reigning champion Yuna Kim of South Korea, this teenage phenom is being called “the biggest star of the Olympics.”(Daily Mail) It’s her unlikely story, though, that captures my imagination. Not unlike celebrated American gymnast Gabby Douglas, she was raised by a single mom and made it to the Olympics against all odds. Yulia’s story is one of great determination (hers) and great love (her mother’s). Working numerous jobs to make ends meet and even moving to Moscow so that young Yulia could train, her mother has made many sacrifices so that her daughter could realize her dream.

While the whole world seems to know about Yulia Lipnitskaya, not as many know about another young Russian woman who has overcome many odds to become an Olympic champion. Her name is Tatyana McFadden, and she spent her first seven years of life in a Russian orphanage. Born with spina bifida, her condition was more than her birth mother could handle, and so Tatyana was brought to a St. Petersburg orphanage, where she was adopted by an American named Deborah McFadden. Tatyana’s story is special to me because her adoptive mother helped my family adopt our own beloved daughter from China 12    years ago. Tatyana will be participating in the 2014 Paralympics March 7-16 as part of the U.S. Nordic Ski Team. This latest achievement comes on the heels of her appearance at the 2012 London Olympics, where Tatyana won three gold medals and one bronze medal in track and field. Her appearance in her homeland will be especially poignant because her birth mother will be there to watch her compete. Determination helped Tatyana survive the difficult circumstances of her birth. The unselfish love of both her birth and adoptive mothers helped her realize her dreams.

An Olympic gold medal may be the ultimate accolade for an elite athlete such as Yulia Lipnitskaya or TatyanaMcFadden. But these girls have already won something much finer – a mother’s love.

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