Note: This article has been updated to include results from Thursday’s road cycling and evening track races, as well as Tatyana McFadden’s selection as recipient of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award.
On Tuesday and Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, two Paralympians who also dabble in skiing racked up medals at the Paralympic Games — with Tatyana McFadden winning the women’s 1500 T53/54 track event and Alicia Brelsford Dana placing second in the road-cycling time trial.
McFadden, 27, of Clarksville, Md., rocketed to her third medal in three races in Rio, leading what the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) dubbed a “Mc-sweep” in her event, ahead of fellow Americans Amanda McGrory (+0.11) and Chelsea McClammer (+0.17). It was the first U.S. track-and-field podium sweep at these Games, and McFadden led from the start to capture a Paralympic record of 3:22.50.
This marks her 13th Paralympic medal in track and field. She also has a silver in sit-skiing at the 2014 Winter Games.
“It’s amazing,” McFadden said, according to a USOC press release. “It’s the first time, I think, in history or in a long, long time since we’ve gotten an American sweep in the 1500 and it happens to be the girls, so it’s really cool.”
“We went into this morning with a pretty good plan and decided we were going to go for it,” McGrory said. “We raced together, we raced smart and we pulled it off.”
(Update: Two days after her latest gold, McFadden was selected to receive another honorary gold medal as one of two recipients of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award. According to a International Paralympic Committee (IPC) press release, an independent panel of judges comprised of IPC Governing Board members selected the winners on Thursday — McFadden and Syria’s Ibrahim Al Hussein, a swimmer who is competing independently in Rio. They will each receive a pure gold medal, weighing 75 grams, at the Closing Ceremony.
The panel chose McFadden and Hussein for best exemplifying “the spirit of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic values.” Seventeen participating countries nominated 21 athletes, and the IPC narrowed the list down to six athletes. McFadden was the only North American among the six finalists.)
On Thursday night, the “Mc-trio” (as the USOC called them) of McFadden, McClammer and McGrory — teammates at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign — swept the podium again in the women’s 5000-meter T53/54. McFadden made her move on the final lap to notch her third gold in four individual races in Rio, winning in 11:54:07. McClammer edged McGrory by one-hundredth of a second for silver (+0.26) and McGrory took bronze (+0.27).
“We train together, so we work really, really well together,” McFadden said, according to a USOC press release. “There’s no one I want more on the podium than my teammates. I think the whole world was looking at us and we were looking at them and we said ‘hey, we’re going to work together’. We’re stronger that way and it definitely showed today.”
Two hours later, McFadden and McClammer raced the 4×400 T53/54 relay with McFadden’s younger sister Hannah McFadden and Cheri Madsen. They crossed the line second behind the People’s Republic of China, which smashed the world record of 3:40.66 with a time of 3:32.11. However, according to the final results, the Americans were disqualified (along with Turkey) and relegated to fourth (while Turkey was listed as third). Australia, which had a season-best time of 3:46.63, took silver, and according to the results, no bronze was awarded.
Dana Second in Time Trial, Fourth in Road Race
On Wednesday, the seventh day of the Paralympics and first day of road cycling, Dana, of Putney, Vt., notched silver in the H1-2-3 time trial with a time of 33:57.48, less than 13 seconds behind the winner, Karen Darke of Great Britain.
Four years ago at the Paralympics in London, Dana, now 47, placed fifth in the same event. At 2015 World Championships, she took silver in both the time trial and road race. In 2014, she was a world champion in the time trial.
In all, the U.S. cycling team racked up nine medals on Wednesday (one gold, five silver and three bronze). Oksana Masters finished fifth in the women’s H4-5 time trial with a time of 33:49.7, about 47 seconds off the podium and 2:14.24 behind the winner, Dorothee Vieth of Germany.
On her official Facebook page, Masters, 27, of Louisville, Ky., also a silver medalist in Sochi and a bronze medalist in doubles rowing at the 2012 London Paralympics, summed up her race on Wednesday: “I Finished 5th today in my combined H4-5 category for the TT. Just like skiing I like courses that have climbs in it. Today was the opposite. Flat as a pancake course with high winds which favors bigger people. I gave it everything I had, plus some blood and it was not enough to bring home a medal for team USA. Tomorrow is a new Day and another chance to race and leave everything on the course. It is a Road Race which will be a mass start. I am feeling hopeful for this race. It is my favorite event. I Can’t wait to throw it down tomorrow. I will be racing around noon rio time tomorrow.”
On Thursday, Masters placed fourth in the women’s H5 road race. She is one of two Americans at the Games who has competed in the last three Paralympics in three different sports.
Germany’s Andrea Eskau — a skier and Winter Paralympic medalist in both biathlon and cross-country in Sochi — won the event in 1:37:07. She finished 2 seconds ahead of the Netherlands’ Laura De Vaan and Jennette Jansen, who placed second and third, respectively. Masters was listed with the same time just 2 seconds back in fourth.
“I’m bummed I finished fourth today and came up a little short, but I’m super happy because I feel like I’ve learned so much from this race alone,” Masters said, according to a USOC press release. “I am just so shocked that I am even here competing in my third Paralympic Games in a row.”
Dana also placed fourth in Thursday in the women’s H1-2-3 road race. With a time of 1:16:01, she was 3 seconds off the podium and 5 seconds behind German winner Christiane Reppe (1:15:56). South Korea’s Do-Yeon Lee finished second and Italy’s Francesca Porcellato was third.
Tuesday: Women’s 1500 T53/54 final