Oksana Masters competes during cycling road women’s H4-5 time trial at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 at on Aug. 31, 2021 in Tokyo.
Oksana Masters joined an exclusive club on Tuesday, becoming only the fourth U.S. woman and sixth American total, to win a gold medal at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games when she claimed the title in the Para-cycling road H4-5 time trial.
The victory marked the ninth Paralympic medal for the Louisville, Kentucky, native across three sports, having previously won two golds, three silvers and two bronze in Nordic skiing, and a bronze in rowing.
The five-time Paralympian now sits in the history books alongside Alana Nichols (wheelchair basketball/alpine skiing), Allison Jones (alpine skiing/Para-cycling) and Kendall Gretsch (paratriathlon/biathlon and cross-country skiing).
“Shock. Oh my god, shock. I just can’t believe this. The field here’s incredible. The women here are so tough,” Masters said. “This was not expected. I was just trying to hold on and fight for third place. I never in a million years thought I would be fighting for a gold medal at all. At Tokyo 2020. In cycling.”
Masters clocked in at Fuji Speedway in 45:40.05, nearly two minutes faster than China’s Bianbian Sun, who took silver in 47:26.53. The win marked Masters’ greatest accomplishment in the sport — she has never won a world title in Para-cycling and was fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial five years ago in Rio.
Masters FaceTimed with her mother back in the U.S. on her bus ride back to her accommodation, still in awe.
“Seeing my mom smile was everything to me in this world,” she said. “I didn’t believe the result. I wanted to see proof that it was final and my result printed in black and white. I’m such a baby in this sport still and seeing the gap I had, I was just shocked.”
Masters will return to competition on Wednesday for a potential 10th career Paralympic medal when she competes in the road race.
“A lot of coffee and right now, and I’m just focusing on the time trial,” she said. “Tomorrow I have the road race and then six months later I will have Beijing. But right now, I’m just so lucky to be here lining up on the start line here in Tokyo.”