Double Paralympic athletics gold medallist Liam Malone has announced his retirement from sport at the age of 24 after admitting he lacks the motivation and will to continue competing on the highest level in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Over the last month I have been reflecting on my position and I have made the difficult decision to retire my running career effective immediately,” he said. “External events both in and out of my control have taken a toll on my training in the last month and I don’t feel I have the emotional investment or necessary focus and energy to succeed at the highest level in Tokyo.
“Becoming an elite athlete was an incredible journey but life is short, I want to find something that I can commit to and be happy in for a long time. It would be unjust to commit half-heartedly to those who support me, my coach, the supporting organisations, the New Zealand public, sponsors, my friends and family.”
Malone has also taken up a full-time role with the business development team at Soul Machines, a hi-tech company of Artificial Intelligence researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists and innovative thinkers who aim to reimagine what is possible in human computing.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me to learn from and work with a group of incredibly talented people who are changing the world for the better,” he added.
Born with fibular hemimelia (part of the fibula bone missing) in both legs, Malone had them amputated below the knee at 18 months.
He started Para athletics while studying at the University of Canterbury thanks to the support of the New Zealand public who raised NZD 20,000 to buy him carbon fibre running blades. Malone competed at his first major international competition in 2015, when he finished fifth in the men’s 100m T43 and sixth in the 200m T43 at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
One year later, he delivered the performance of his life as he won double gold in the 200m and 400m T44 at Rio 2016, setting Paralympic records in both events along the way. Malone also added silver in the 100m T44 to his tally.
For his achievements in Rio he was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 and was named Sportsperson of the Year and Sportsman of the Year at the 2016 Nelson Sports Awards in New Zealand.
Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive Hamish Grey said: “On behalf of Athletics New Zealand I wish to congratulate Liam on his wonderful career.
“The decision to step away from a sport you are so successful at is never easy and Liam can step away knowing he has done New Zealand proud and helped raise the awareness of Paralympic Sport across the globe”.
Paralympics New Zealand CEO Fiona Allan added: “Liam Malone's performances at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were truly exceptional. During, and post the Games he was a fantastic Paralympic ambassador nationally and internationally.
“We acknowledge and thank Liam for assisting in developing a greater awareness of Paralympic sport and further assisting in changing societal perceptions. He achieved this through his athletic performance and success on the track and also through numerous community events and speaking engagements. We wish him all the best for the future.”
Full story is available on Athletics New Zealand’s website.