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Breaking Down The Finalists: Female Athlete Of The Paralympic Games

By Paul D. Bowker | Sept. 20, 2016, 6:35 p.m. (ET)

The five women up for Female Athlete of the Paralympic Games, presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, each had gold medals in their suitcases when they flew home from Rio de Janeiro.

Their performances were each uniquely impressive. Yet voters for Best of the Paralympic Games, presented by Dow, can only select one. How does one decide?

Let’s take a closer look at the incredible achievements and background of each athlete.

Then, to cast your vote, go to: www.TeamUSA.org/awards. Voting ends at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 23. Voting for the Team USA Awards is also being held for best male athlete and best team.

Tatyana McFadden
Sport: Track and Field
Hometown: Clarksville, Maryland
Age: 27
Rio Accomplishments: McFadden medaled in all six individual events she entered, including winning gold medals in 400-, 800-, 1,500- and 5,000-meter distances. She won silver medals in the marathon and 100-meter.
Why it Mattered:A 17-time Paralympic Games medalist, McFadden tied swimmer Jessica Long with six medals in Rio. The marathon medal was the first in the Paralympic Games for McFadden, a three-time marathon grand slam winner (Boston, London, Chicago, New York City).
Fun Fact: McFadden has competed in the last four summer Paralympic Games. She began her run of medals by winning silver and bronze medals at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Add in the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, and she’s a five-time Paralympian.
What’s Next: The Chicago Marathon is Oct. 9.

Becca Meyers

Sport: Swimming
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Age: 21
Rio Accomplishments: In her second Paralympic Games, Meyers won three gold medals and a silver medal. Her wins came in the S13 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly and 200-individual medley.
Why it Mattered: Meyers set three world records in Rio. In all four events she won medals in, she had personal-best times.
Fun Fact: Meyers, who was born with Usher syndrome and uses an electronic device to hear, began swimming at age 6.
What’s Next: Meyers is back in her training pool at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where she has worked out alongside five-time Olympian Michael Phelps, a six-time medalist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Shawn Morelli

Sport: Cycling
Hometown: Meadville, Pennsylvania
Age: 40
Rio Accomplishments: Morelli won gold medals in women’s C4 3,000-meter individual pursuit in track cycling and also the C4 road cycling time trial.
Why it Mattered: Morelli won Team USA’s first gold medal of the Rio Games, and it came in her Paralympic debut in the individual pursuit.
Fun Fact: Morelli, a U.S. Army veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2007, competed in her first cycling competition in the 2010 Warrior Games.
What’s Next: She is working on a Ph.D. in public and community service.

Becca Murray

Sport: Wheelchair Basketball
Hometown: Germantown, Wisconsin
Age: 26
Rio Accomplishments: A three-time Paralympian, Murray led Team USA with 169 points and averaged 24.1 points per game on the way to a championship in women’s wheelchair basketball.
Why it Mattered:Team USA won the gold medal for the third time in the last four Paralympic Games.
Fun Fact: Murray led the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater women’s wheelchair basketball team to three national championships. She actually played wheelchair street hockey as a child before turning to basketball.
What’s Next: Murray is focusing on becoming an adoption specialist.

Grace Norman

Sport: Paratriathlon
Hometown: Jamestown, Ohio
Age: 18
Rio Accomplishments: Norman won the gold medal in the women’s PT4 triathlon by more than a minute over Lauren Steadman of Great Britain. She also won a bronze medal in track and field in the T44 400-meter.
Why it Mattered: Norman won the first women’s paratriathlon in Paralympic Games history.
Fun Fact: Norman lives on a farm in Ohio and trains pigs for the county fair.
What’s Next: Norman is a freshman at Cedarville University in Ohio, where her sister, Bethany, is on the women’s cross-country team.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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