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NZ bladerunner Liam Malone announces his retirement from sport

The Rio medal winner takes up a new challenge at a high-tech company.
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Kiwi Paralympic sprinter Liam Malone has announced his retirement from competitive sport.

The 24-year-old who won two gold medals and one silver at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, is taking up a new role in high-tech business Soul Machines.

Malone said he decided to retire from sport as he felt he lacked motivation to focus on competing at the highest level.

“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,” he said.

Malone 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.

His biggest supporter was his late mum Trudi Scott, who died from bowel cancer in 2012.

“Mum never gave me any slack in terms of how I perceive myself,” Liam told Woman’s Day in 2016. “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 said.

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.”

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.

After now achieving that dream, Liam is taking up a new role with tech company Soul Machines. The firm creates ‘Digital Humans’ that allow machines to talk face-to-face with people.

Malone told RNZ that he was excited “to learn from and work with a group of incredibly talented people who are changing the world for the better.”

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