When Kiwi Paralympic sprinter Liam Malone won silver on Saturday morning (New Zealand time), the achievement meant more than just a spot on the podium. For the ambitious 22-year-old, the win was also a tribute to his beloved mum Trudi Scott, who tragically passed away from bowel cancer in 2012.
Saturday would have been Trudi's birthday, a fact that wasn't lost on Liam. Speaking to reporters after his stunning performance in the men's 100m T44 final, the athlete said "for it to fall on my mum's birthday is crazy."
"Today is a special day for me back home. Lost mum to cancer four years ago and today, New Zealand time, it would be her birthday - so, happy birthday mum," he said, fighting back tears.
Today, Liam cemented his rising star status in Rio with an exhilarating gold medal win in the men's 200m T44 final - breaking the previous Paralympic Games record set by Oscar Pistorius in the process.
When we spoke to Liam shortly before his Paralympics bid, he explained how Trudi was the "driving force" in his life.
Read our original story below
When Kiwi blade runner Liam Malone nestles into his blocks at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in pursuit of 400m gold, he’ll have no shortage of motivating factors propelling him towards his dreams.
The ambitious 22-year-old athlete will of course be desperate to deliver for himself, his coach and his country. But above all, Auckland-based Liam will be inspired by his late mum Trudi Scott, who tragically died from bowel cancer in 2012.
Liam was born with fibular hemimelia, where part or all of the fibula bone is missing, and had both legs amputated below the knee at 18 months. But the Nelson-born sprinter was raised never to allow his disability stop him from enjoying an active life.
“Mum never gave me any slack in terms of how I perceive myself,” explains Liam. “She was very determined and an optimist. She was the driving force in developing my personality. She never let me use my legs as an excuse to get out of things.”
Even after he finished last behind “all but three girls” in a school cross-country race aged five, Trudi never allowed Liam to get too downbeat about his disability. “She always said to me, ‘All you need is the technology,’” he explains.
Her words were to prove prophetic.
Trudi twice beat cancer, only for it to return a third time and finally defeat her. Liam was devastated. “I was very unhappy after my mum passed away and I was drinking a lot,” he admits.
With the help of family and friends, he realised he had to turn his life around and decided to pursue a dream to run at the Rio Games. Recognising he needed a set of blades to achieve his goal,
Liam made a public appeal via TV3 show 3rd Degree in 2013 that raised $20,000.
“It was completely overwhelming,” he says.
With the top-quality blades secured and three years of tireless training now behind him, Liam is ranked first in the world for the men’s 400m T43 (double below- knee amputation). But no matter what he achieves in Rio, he’ll be drawing strength from his mum.
“She would have loved to have been here now supporting me,” he tells. “I just hope I can make her very proud in Rio.”