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Oksana Masters Is First Paralympian to Obtain ESPYS Nomination for Greatest Athlete

After a record-breaking run within the Winter Video games this previous March, multi-sport athlete Oksana Masters is etching her title in yet one more sports activities historical past guide: This week, the skier, bicycle owner, and biathlete acquired an ESPYS nomination within the Greatest Athlete, Girls’s Sports activities class, marking the primary time a Paralympic athlete—male or feminine—acquired the nod within the Greatest Athlete area, as ESPN confirmed to SELF.

Masters—who was SELF’s digital cowl star in February—is up for the respect together with gymnast Sunisa Lee, swimmer Katie Ledecky, and basketball participant Candace Parker. She additionally racked up two extra ESPYS nominations for 2022, together with Greatest Olympian, Girls’s Sports activities (alongside Lee, Ledecky, and observe and area star Allyson Felix) and Greatest Athlete with a Incapacity, Girls’s Sports activities (together with swimmer Jessica Lengthy, snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, and soccer participant Kate Ward). That is the eighth nomination for Masters within the Greatest Athlete with a Incapacity, Girls’s Sports activities class since she acquired her first nod in 2014.

When SELF caught up with Masters after the announcement, she mentioned she was blown away by the information and wasn’t fairly certain methods to put into phrases what the historic nomination meant to her.

“This can be a enormous win and a monumental second not only for me as a first-ever male/feminine nominee on this class, however for all Paralympic athletes, adaptive athletes, and the entire incapacity neighborhood,” she tells SELF.

Masters, a six-time Paralympian, is coming off a history-making efficiency on the 2022 Winter Video games: She medaled in all seven of her occasions—together with golds within the dash biathlon, particular person biathlon, and blended relay cross-country. This extra {hardware} introduced her complete Paralympic medal haul as much as 14, making her probably the most embellished U.S. Winter Paralympian ever.

It additionally brings her complete Paralympic medal rely as much as 17, since she’s a Summer season Video games athlete, too: After successful bronze in rowing in London again in 2012, she took dwelling her first Summer season golds—each in biking occasions—this previous summer season in Tokyo.

As she advised SELF in February, Masters believes visibility and illustration have gotten higher for Paralympians, although she nonetheless says “there’s such a protracted approach to go.”

“It’s actually cool for [Paralympians] to have the ability to hopefully stay up for their Olympic-within-Paralympic Video games expertise of ‘I am a legit athlete, I’m Crew USA,’” she mentioned in her cowl story. “They’re often called an athlete first—not what their life story is that propelled them down the Paralympic street as a substitute of the Olympic street.”

The ESPYS nomination, although, is one other step in the proper route, as she tells SELF after the announcement.

“Phrases can not categorical how grateful I’m for ESPN to acknowledge me as an ATHLETE,” she says. “They’ve shattered the glass ceiling and have redefined what it means and appears wish to be an athlete.”

The winners for the ESPYS awards, which will probably be broadcast dwell on July 20 on ABC, are chosen by fan votes. Followers can vote right here by July 17.


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