Nightly News   |  November 01, 2013

Paralyzed athlete aims for fourth marathon win

On Sunday, Paralympic athlete Tatyana McFadden – nicknamed ‘The Beast’ -- will compete in the New York City marathon. She has already won three marathons this year alone, and if she wins this one, it will be something no runner has ever done. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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>>> finally tonight, about 45,000 runners are egs expected to take part in this sunday's new york city marathon. last year you may remember runners were disappointed when the city called off the race because the city was badly torn up by hurricane sandy. this weekend a determined young woman is trying to make her fourth marathon for the year. something no one has ever done. that's just the beginning of the story of tatiana mcfadden . here is our national correspondent kate snow .

>>> tatiana mcfadden in the weight room and you will see why her coach calls her the beast.

>> why does everyone else get sweet nicknames and i get the beast? what's wrong here?

>> reporter: there is a reason for the name. the biceps, sculpted back powering her wheelchair.

>> we have been following her for miles at about 20 miles per hour.

>> yeah.

>> reporter: she's fast.

>> she is.

>> reporter: we chased her she trained for the marathon. following boston. no one has won so many major marathons in a year. but no one is quite like tat the iana mcfadden . she was born with spina bifida , a hole in her back, abandoned at a russian orphanage.

>> i walked on my hands everywhere i went. my hands were like your legs. that's how i got around everywhere.

>> reporter: her coach says it's part of the reason she's in such phenomenal shape now. adopted when she was 6 her american mother used sports to help strengthen her. she fell in love with racing and fought in court for the right to be part of her high school track team.

>> reporter: you changed the law.

>> we changed the law.

>> reporter: she's an eight-time world champion . won three gold medals at the paralympics in london. as soon as the marathon is over this weekend the full-time student will be training for sochi. that's right, the winter games . she started nordic cross country skiing last year.

>> reporte one sport wasn't enough for you?

>> i love sports. i love competing. no matter what, i love it.

>> reporter: it's a mistake, her coach says, to think she's over come a weakness. she's embraced her strength and her past.

>> i have to think about i have been through tougher. this will be a breeze.

>> reporter: the power of one athlete, a winner even before she cross it is finish line this weekend. kate snow , nbc news, champain, illinois.