"Things don't always go to plan," Oksana Masters wrote in an Instagram post on July 6. That day marked exactly eight weeks since the four-time Paralympian's unexpected leg surgery, which threw her preparation and training for the Tokyo Paralympic Games up in the air. On July 6, Masters said she hadn't been able to wear her prosthetic legs since the surgery, eight weeks ago, but that she was "getting close."
Last week, the time was finally right — and the Paralympic medalist found out that even that much-anticipated step wasn't simple, because putting on her prosthetics meant she had to learn how to walk again. And, "fun fact . . .," Masters wrote in an update posted on July 21. "Learning to walk is not like riding a bike." Masters wasn't sure what aspect of it was more difficult and frustrating: getting her fitness back up to its pre-surgery, Paralympic competitor level, or "re-learning how to walk and slowly building my fitness, strength and endurance to walk in prosthetics again." Unable to wear her prosthetics after surgery, Masters said she borrowed a wheelchair from her boyfriend, Aaron Pike, also a multi-sport athlete in the Paralympics. (Both Pike and masters compete in cycling, cross-country skiing, and biathlon, and Masters has also rowed.)
Masters's surgery came exactly 100 days out from the Tokyo Paralympic Games, putting the para-cyclist's path to qualification in peril. "There is still a small crack in the door to make it to Tokyo and you better believe I am determined to make it through that small crack," Masters wrote at the time. Mission accomplished: she qualified for Tokyo in June and will soon head to her fifth Paralympic Games.
Despite Masters's impatience with her current recovery process ("there are parts where I wish things would move faster"), she's keeping things in perspective. "It's important to remember there is no perfect timeline," she explained. "The past 10 weeks have been celebrating small victories like this one. Standing on my own legs again."