Rio Paralympics 2016: Kiwi Blade Runner Liam Malone is on track for the podium
Running in Rio has never been in doubt for Liam Malone.
The Kiwi Blade Runner will feature in three of the biggest events at the Paralympic Games this month - the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Malone is a double amputee below the knee, which means he has no feet, and he had to crowd fund to purchase his $20,000 carbon fibre running blades three years ago.
That's just one of the challenges he has faced on the Road to Rio: Malone has also had to balance his training with his studies at Canterbury University, while battling depression after his mum died.
* Malone named in Paralympics team
* Rio now Liam Malone's focus
* Malone books place at Paralympics
* Liam Malone is blade-running to Rio
* Para-swimmers dream of gold
* NZ para-cyclists riding to Rio
* Sharpshooter targets Rio glory
* Para-sailors aim to surprise
* Two more athletes off to Rio
* Record haul at Paralympics?
The 22-year-old Nelson sprinter is now preparing for the biggest races in his career, after easing through qualifying earlier this year.
Malone only has one target in his mind, and that's a place on the podium in each event.
He finished fifth and sixth in the 100m and 200m, respectively, at last year's world championships in Doha, and he's ranked No 3 in the world in the 400m. Malone ran a time this year that would have made him the world's fastest 400m blade runner, on last year's world championships results.
Now he wants to payback for the support from the New Zealand public, who donated for his running blades.
"It's fantastic because I had to crowd fund to get my original set of blades and the New Zealand public fronted for that. They got me here and I'm grateful for all the support. I'm proud to represent New Zealand."
Competing at the Paralympics was the first target. Now he's going for gold. "I could have definitely believed it [that he would compete in Rio] and it's something that's always been accomplishable. I set myself this goal out of the options I had ahead of me. It's going to be a very competitive race to get in there [and win], but I back myself to get on the podium."
He was born with fibular hemimelia in both his legs, where part or all of his fibula bone is missing. Both legs were amputated below the knee when he was just 18 months old.
The original Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, was also born with fibular hemimelia.
"I don't really think I have a disability but I'm a double amputee. I'm basically missing my feet and that's made up with having two prosthetic limbs because of a general absence of the fibula bone," said Malone.
The former Nayland College student was named in New Zealand's team in May, and he's part of the eight-strong athletics team.
Malone broke New Zealand's T43 (double amputee) national 400m record with a phenomenal personal best time of 48.28sec at the Porritt Classic in February in Hamilton - the time that would have won him gold in Doha last year.
His first race he competes in will be the heats of the 100m, which starts at 8:42am on Friday morning (NZ time).
The 200m event begins on September 12 with the 400m beginning just three days later.
It's an action packed week for Malone, who's close to realising his dream in Rio.
"To stand up on the podium would be a pretty surreal experience," he said. "For that to happen there's a lot of hard work to do."
Holly Robinson, Jessica Hamill, Rory McSweeney, Anna Grimaldi, William Stedman, Caitlin Dore and Jacob Phillips complete the lineup for New Zealand's para-athletics team.
AT A GLANCE:
Name: Liam Malone
Classification: T43 (track).
Disability: Double limb deficiency.
Record: Finished 5th and 6th in the 100m and 200m respectively, at last year's IPC world championships.
Personal: The New Zealand public donated funds to help Malone purchase his running blades.