Paralympics: Chernobyl victim wins first gold in Pyeongchang

Oksana Masters, who was born with radiation-induced birth defects caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, has won Paralympic gold in cross country skiing. She had won two previous medals at the 2014 Sochi games.

American cross country skier Oksana Masters finally got her Paralympic gold on Wednesday, winning the 1.1 kilometer cross country sprint in the sitting category. 

"This is the most amazing medal of my career," said Masters, who had both legs amputated as a child after being born with radiation-induced birth defects.

"I am so happy I have been able to channel the things I went through when I was younger and make them into something positive."

The 28-year-old won a silver in biathlon and a bronze in cross country at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi and had also collected a bronze in rowing at the 2012 Summer Games in London. 

The United States, who sent the biggest delegation to the with 69 athletes, is currently leading the overall medal table with six gold medals, and eleven medals in total.

Chernobyl victim

Masters was born in 1989 in modern-day Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, three years after a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded and killed 31 people in the world's worst nuclear disaster. She had several birth defects, including six toes on each foot, webbed fingers on each hand, and her left leg six inches (15 centimeters) shorter than her right.

Her family gave up on her and she lived in three different orphanages until she was adopted at age seven by an American woman. She had her left leg amputated at age eight and her right leg at age 13.

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ftm/dv (AFP, SID)