Above: Liam Malone on the charge in the T44 100m final at the Rio Paralympics. Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images.
New Zealand's Para-Athletics team added two medals to their tally on the second day of competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Kiwi "blade runner" Liam Malone has bagged an astonishing silver medal in the T44 100m and F44 Javelin thrower Rory McSweeney scored bronze to provide the athletics team with a complete set of medals after two days, complementing the gold for long jumper Anna Grimaldi on the first day of competition.
Malone, a 22 year old student ran a stunning personal best 10.90 in the heats yesterday with a storming finish and while he couldn't quite replicate that time after a slow start in the final, he once again flashed home over the final 30m of the race to record 11.02 and claim second place behind Jonnie Peacock (GBR).
The Nelson athlete, now based in Auckland and coached by recently retired national 200m champion James Mortimer. has been on a rapid improvement track since first trying the sport in 2013 when at a cross-roads in his life.
Liam - who was born with the condition fibular hemimelia in which part or all of the fibular bone is missing and who had both legs amputated below the knee at 18 months took to the sport immediately and has been improving rapidly ever since.
“Today was a super special day for me as it is my Mum’s birthday. She passed away four years ago and I know she would be so proud. My mates were in the stand and it is really special to have them here to support me, said Malone.
“I was aiming for gold but Jonnie Peacock is fast and he raced a great race. I was pleased my acceleration kicked in toward the end, as it always does,” he added.
He starts in his more favoured events, the 200m and 400m events later in the programme.
Mortimer was thrilled for his charge.
"Liam's heat was really exciting, but his finish in the final was even more thrilling. He kept his cool after a poor start and just kept up the form and pressure to catch the others just before the line," said a happy Mortimer. "We're looking forward to his other races coming up to see what he can do."
The medal action didn't stop there, with Dunedin Javelin thrower McSweeney claiming bronze in the F44 Javelin.
The 31 year old started with an opening throw of 52.18 to sit in fifth place at the end of the round. He improved to third place in the second round with 54.02 and then went one better in the fourth round after a 54.99 effort, only to see Canadian Alister McQueen leapfrogging him with a 55.56 effort soon after. The gold medal went to Akeem Stewart with a world record 57.32.
“This was an amazing night. I am over the moon; it really hasn’t sunk in!" said McSweeney.
"I was in the bronze medal position for a while but had other competitors still to throw, so it was pretty nerve-wracking, I had to wait until the very end to know if I had won the bronze. It was a really hard competition and I have had a tough four weeks, with lots of niggles in the body, but I thought I could get out there and do the business. I wanted to celebrate, but you have to be respectful, there was a lot of heartbreak around me on the field. I can’t wait to get back to the village and see my friends and family, who were all watching in the stands. The local crowd was absolutely pumping tonight!” he added.
Earlier Hamilton sprinter Jacob Phillips made the final of the T35 100m and finished in eighth place at his first major international meet. He will contest the 200m later in the Games.