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Student to trial blades to become fastest disabled sprinter

UC student to trial blades in first step to becoming world’s fastest disabled sprinter

October 16, 2013

A 19-year-old University of Canterbury (UC) commerce student, Liam Malone, who lost both legs at the age of two, will trial his new running-blades for the first time on Friday (October 18).

Malone wants to be New Zealand's top sprinter at the 2016 Paralympics and enough funds have been raised from the public for him to buy a pair of blades.

``The blades are fixed to a high density plastic socket temporarily to make adjustments regarding the biomechanics of wearing the limbs before making a permanent carbon fibre socket,’’ Malone says.

``Grant Robertson, manager of UC’s sports programme, and his team have been absolutely awesome. They invited me into their athlete development programme, giving me access to their facilities in the gym.

``On Friday, Grant’s team will be helping me with biomechanics. Using a high-speed camera I will try and walk on the blades and then hopefully get into a run on the treadmill. The team from the Artificial Limb Centre by Burwood Hospital will come along to make adjustments following an analysis of the footage.’’

Robertson says Malone asked UC Sport to facilitate the testing with the Limb Centre as UC has a great set up at their Sport Science Centre and with help from Matthew Ingram, UC Sport's performance and technique analyst.

``He has been walking with the aid of parallel bars for support but. We need to look at his movement function as Liam transfers from walking to jogging to fast running and address any issues that arise through that process.’’

The former Nayland College student from near Nelson was born with a condition named fibular hemimelia, which meant both of his legs had to be amputated below the knee when he reached the age of two.

``I want to be the fastest disabled sprinter in the world. All the money for the news blades was donated which was incredibly overwhelming. I owe New Zealand a lot.

``I started skiing around the age of six and switched to snowboarding when I was 13. Snowboarding was a sport I could really compete equally against my peers.

``I was always involved in sport at school. My peers and coaches treated me no differently so I grew up with the expectation of having no excuses and to just simply try my best. I played rugby and cricket from the age of six.

``I never carried on with sprinting in my early teens because I was dealing with the illness of my mother and wanted to experience a normal teenage life. Sprinting would have taken up too much of my time,’’ Malone says.


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