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Life Lessons: Rowing toward success

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 03 2013 04:00:00 AM CDT

Life Lessons rowing toward success

If you're having a rough day, you're about to get a little inspiration.

We introduce you to a young woman who's fighting incredible odds, and she's winning.

Meet Oksana Masters. She works hard and dreams big.

"I basically say, if you want to do this you're going to do it," paralympic athlete Oksana Masters says.

Never mind that she wears prosthetic legs. Oksana rowed her way to success with her teammate Marine veteran Rob Jones, winning a bronze medal in the 2012 London Paralympics.

"It's not just for you," says Oksana. "When you hear USA, you're doing it for your country."

Oksana's mother Gay Masters adopted her at age seven from an orphanage in Ukraine, where she was abused and hungry.

"She was literally failure to thrive, starving to death," explains Gay Masters.

Oksana was born without weight-bearing bones in her legs. She had webbed fingers and no thumbs. Still, nothing kept her down.

When Oksana's legs had to be amputated, it was traumatic.

Oksana recalls, "Once I had my second one done, that's when it hit me like, oh my God, they took my leg off."

Oksana wants to live life to the max, and that brings her to Kentucky Prosthetics in Louisville.

On this day, Sienna Newman fits Oksana with new sockets for her legs.

"Getting to watch a friend and a patient perform at such an elite level of sports is just awe-inspiring," Newman says.

Oksana has an incredible will to succeed.

Oksana explains, "It's really important for me to give it my all in the gym, basically to the verge of tears, because that means there's nothing else you could have done."

In sports and life, Oksana feels blessed.

"I got what I ever wanted was a family," says Oksana. "I've got the best mom in the world."

Oksana had a taste of the Olympic field in London and wants more.

She hopes to compete in the World Cup for adaptive rowing in June, the World Championships in August, and maybe even Nordic skiing in the Winter Paralympics next year.