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Blade runner coming to town

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

If you watched any of this year’s Paralympic Games in Rio, there was probably one face that stood out more than most.

New Zealand’s blade runner, Liam Malone, inspired millions around the world with his incredible sprinting feats while charming his new-found fans with an easy-going image built on a stream of memorable quotes.

His blistering speed captured two gold medals and a silver in an emotional campaign that was dedicated to his late mother.

Aside from his remarkable efforts on the track, Malone now finds he has had to grow his budding business skills since his name and image exploded on a global scale.

On Thursday next week, the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with ANZ, will be hosting a business breakfast at which Malone will be the guest speaker.

Media requirements had been non-stop since his triumphs in Brazil, but it is something he is slowly getting used to.

“It will be a pleasure to see more of the country – that’s one of the benefits of what I do,” Malone told the Times-Age on Thursday.

“I’ve driven through Masterton and Wairarapa but I’ve never spent time there for a dedicated purpose.”

Adversity has been a constant barrier for Malone, who had both feet amputated when he was 18 months old.

Although there had been tough times, especially when he lost his mother to cancer in 2012, he always found a way to get back up and continue his remarkable journey.

“I’m an optimist at heart and always will be.

“I’ve overcome a ton of adversity in my life with mum dying and being born with deformed limbs – so in the worst of times I’m always good.”

As for the fame that comes with being a Paralympic champion, he said it had not changed his life significantly.

“My life hasn’t changed since Rio – my life changed when I started taking ownership and responsibility for all the outcomes in my life.

“The day I started setting goals and focussing on achieving them was when my life changed.”

Tokyo’s Paralympic Games in 2020 has been locked in as a target, with a specific goal already on the table.

“The performance objective is to become the fastest man on the planet to run 400m by 2020 – a time of 42.8 seconds should do this.”

Before then, Malone was hoping to delve into stand-up comedy, acting and starting his own business.

He will also be completing his skydiving license in Abel Tasman over the summer.

“I’m working on writing [stand-up] material at the moment.

“I’m flat out with so many events and speaking engagements that I haven’t had a chance to perform.

“I don’t have any fear of being on stage but it’s just creating the time to do it.”

Despite a seemingly never-ending series of successes for Malone, including recently picking up Nelson Sportsperson of the Year in his hometown, he admitted he did have a weakness.

“My greatest weakness is that I’m disorganised.

“I’m working really hard on creating positive habits around my organisational behaviour to allow me to execute my dreams.

“I know that if I fail to achieve what I want in life, my lack of organisation will be a primary factor in that failure.”

Growing up his father had always told him he would be fast – despite his disability – and the irony of how the last few months had unfolded was not lost on Malone.

“When I look back at my childhood and teen years, I failed at all sports and was mocked for how useless I was. “My dad always said I would be faster than my friends one day so it’s crazy that his vision came true.”

Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce chair Sean Stafford said business breakfast events was one area the body was seeking to develop more effectively.

“ . . . we’re adapting to ensure we become more relevant as an advocate for business in Wairarapa.

“We received some strong feedback along the lines of these breakfasts being one of the areas of value that the business community liked about the chamber.

“Our objective at the moment is to get really good speakers in over the next 12 months to really kind of rev these breakfasts up.”

Malone was a perfect candidate to get the ball rolling, he said.

“We’ve been working with ANZ to get Liam down and the reason is we think he’s a great example of someone who has thrived in the face of adversity – his approach to managing challenges and adversity is just as relevant to business and life as it is to sport.”

The way he had inspired so many people around the world, in addition to the many challenges he had faced, meant he had an amazing story to tell.

“The flow on from that is just the fact that he’s a good Kiwi bloke.

“He’s a role model, he’s humorous and energetic, and he’s someone that we can all learn a lot from given the way he’s managed his disability in a really constructive kind of way.”

Tickets were selling fast, but those wishing to attend should still get in touch, he said.

“We would encourage anyone who’s keen to come along to get in touch with the chamber and we can see what we can do.”

The breakfast will be held at Farriers Restaurant at 7.30am on December 8.


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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