Malkamaki breaks shot put world record three times en route to first career title to headline six-medal day for Team USA in Paris
PARIS, FRANCE – For the fourth consecutive day at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, France, Team USA athletes set at least one world record. Where previous marks had been set by the Americans on the track and in jumping events, today it was thrower Noelle Malkamaki (Decatur, Illinois) who rewrote the record books three times en route to the first international medal of her young Para career.
Joining Malkamaki with podium performances for Team USA on an action-packed day six were silver medalists Josh Cinnamo (San Diego, California), Derek Loccident (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and Tanner Wright (Abilene, Texas), and bronze medalists Tatyana McFadden (Baltimore, Maryland) and Jarryd Wallace (Athens, Georgia).
Team USA’s medal total now stands at 26, ranked third among the 103 nations competing at world championships, which run through July 17 at Charléty Stadium.
Malkamaki, a DePaul University thrower who set the women’s shot put F46 world record for the first time at U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships in May, broke that mark with a 13.02-meter throw on her second attempt, then bettered that two throws later to 13.25-meters. With the gold medal secured, Malkamaki threw 13.32 meters on her final attempt to complete the hat trick.
She joins teammates Jaydin Blackwell, Breanna Clark, Ezra Frech and Roderick Townsend, who have all set world records in Paris.
Brand new to Para track and field, Malkamaki set her nationals world record at 12.63 meters, but said in May that she wanted to throw more than 13 meters in Paris.
She accomplished that feat – four times out of six tries.
“It’s fun to be present in this moment,” she said. “It came from a lot of throwing with the heavy shot put, a lot of lifting, a lot of work with my tech, and the time I took after nationals to work on this, I do think it ended up paying off. There was a lot of trusting the process, but it ended up paying off.”
Malkamaki has burst onto the Para track and field scene as of late after competing alongside able-bodied athletes her whole career.
“In a word, it’s been life-changing,” she said. “Having the opportunity to compete at this kind of level and among elite athletes like this is something I never thought I could do with my life and now that it’s happening, it’s totally surreal.”
The men’s long jump T64, featuring Loccident, Wallace and 2020 Paralympic bronze medalist Trenten Merrill (San Juan Capistrano, California), ended up as one of the most tightly contested events of the meet thus far. The three Team USA jumpers ended up second through fourth, separated by .06 meters.
Loccident, the newest of the three to Para sport and to track and field in general, ended up with the silver medal and a 7.39-meter best jump. The former Central Oklahoma University defensive back is competing in his first-ever international meet.
“Being here on this stage, on this platform, being here with these guys, this feels great,” Loccident said. “We came in with a purpose and we competed and we did it at a high level. I’m just happy to be here with them and to gain knowledge from these guys.”
Wallace, meanwhile, pulled off a dramatic comeback in his sixth attempt for the bronze medal. The three-time world champion was down just .01 meters – 7.32 to 7.33 – to Merrill heading into his final jump, and was able to hit the 7.34 mark to edge his teammate.
This marks the first time that Wallace, a three-time Paralympian, has competed in jumps in a major event. He chose to switch his focus from sprints.
“It was a really tough decision,” he said. “When I was looking at my goals for the next 18 months, I wanted to have fun and I wanted to put myself in an opportunity to compete for the podium. I knew if I executed and stayed in the moment, I could get it done.”
Wallace’s medal win was bolstered by the fact that his father was able to watch him compete live internationally for the first time. Wallace said he learned a lot from watching his father coach.
“I try to be the most coachable athlete that I can, and my dad has coached for 38 years so I’ve watched what the results can be with coachable athletes and good coaching,” he said.
Merill, meanwhile, ended up just off the podium in fourth place by just .01 meters. The 2015 worlds silver medalist in long jump, Merill is the veteran jumper among the three athletes, and both Wallace and Loccident spoke highly of him after their competition.
“Trent is such a phenomenal long jumper and competitor, and it’s hard to win a medal that way, but he’s going to come back even stronger,” Wallace said. “We all are. Iron sharpens iron, and we’ve got an arsenal of iron right here.”
In the men’s 400-meter T47 final, Wright topped his former personal best by nearly half a second to earn his first career international medal. In a tight finish between second and fourth that was separated by only .13 seconds, Wright’s time of 48.95 edged the next two competitors.
The silver medal is an improvement over Wright’s fourth-place finish in the event in Tokyo. He still has the 100-meter left on his competition slate in Paris.
“I knew that five of us only went 80 or 90 percent doing prelims, so I knew it was going to be a chess match going into finals,” Wright said. “I tried not to strategize anymore, to just not think and just run. My coaches have really helped me gain confidence with my fitness, so it gave me even more confidence to say ‘Let’s just go out and see what we can do.’ When I finally realized I got it, it felt like the past six years just paying off.”
Paralympic bronze medalist Josh Cinnamo (San Diego, California) added another world championship medal to his growing list of men’s shot put F46 accomplishments. His silver in this morning’s competition was his second world championships medal, after he won gold in 2019.
“If you have a season best, that’s always good,” Cinnamo said. “The throw was well over my average for the season, so that’s something you have to look at. It’s always good to put the Stars and Stripes behind your head, you’re never more proud to put your uniform on among the other countries.”
Rounding out the Team USA medals was the 20-time Paralympic medalist McFadden, who earned her 22nd career world championships medal in the women’s 100-meter T54. After a ninth-place finish in yesterday’s 1500-meter race that McFadden said she wasn’t happy with, she was able to refocus today and earn bronze in the 100-meter.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said. “I had a little bit of a rough start to this race and was really proud that I was able to recover from it. This is a stepping stone to [the Paralympic Games] next year, which I’m really excited about because we can only go up from here. I know what I need to do and need to accomplish in order to get there.”
The medal was McFadden’s second bronze of the competition, and she and teammate Hannah Dederick (Mead, Washington), who placed sixth in today’s 100-meter competition, each will return to the track for the 400-meter heats on Saturday.
In other Team USA action, three-time Paralympian Brian Siemann (Champaign, Illinois), already a bronze medalist in Paris, raced a season’s best 15.05 in the men’s 100-meter T53 en route to a fourth-place finish. Siemann will finish his slate of events with the 800-meter race on Saturday.
In her first and only event in Paris, Team USA’s Kaitlin Bounds (Russellville, Arkansas) ran a personal-best time of 4:45.56 in the women’s 1500-meter T20 en route to a sixth-place finish. Bounds’ topped her previous personal by nearly a second and her season’s best by more than 10 seconds to round out her second career world championships.
Wrapping his world championships debut was Ryan Medrano (Savannah, Georgia), who placed seventh in the men’s long jump T38 to conclude his first international track meet.
Medrano, who found Para track and field through Paralympian Noelle Lambert while the two were competing on Survivor, had not competed in a track meet in nine years prior to qualifying for the worlds team at national championships.
He finished in the top-six in both of his running events in Paris.
“I have a lot of people supporting me and I love pushing myself,” he said. “I performed as best I could, the outcome might not have been what I wanted, but I know that next year is what I need to train for. I love the experience of being on the track, it’s helping me learn how to focus and run my own race.”
Competition at Charléty Stadium resumes July 15 at 9 a.m. local time. For viewers in the United States, all sessions are streamed live on Peacock, and live results can be found here. For live updates and results from Team USA, follow U.S. Paralympics Track & Field on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
Team USA Medals – July 14
Noelle Malkamaki – women’s shot put F46
Josh Cinnamo – men’s shot put F46
Derek Loccident – men’s long jump T64
Tanner Wright – men’s 400-meter T47
Tatyana McFadden – women’s 100-meter T54
Jarryd Wallace – men’s long jump T64