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Malkamaki sets a world record at Paralympics nationals

Noelle Malkamaki
Noelle Malkamaki, shown here in training in the shot put at DePaul, will represent Team USA in the world championships this summer. (DePaul Athletics)

When DePaul senior Noelle Malkamaki set a Paralympics world record this month in Chula Vista, Calif., she not only won gold at the national track and field championships but also earned a spot on Team USA for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris this July.

Malkamaki threw the shot 12.63 meters on May 20, the best throw ever recorded in the F46 class of adaptive competitions.

But here's the thing: That wasn't even Malkamaki's best shot put of May. A week earlier at the BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships, she heaved the shot 13.84 meters to place fourth — just a centimeter shy of her career best.

"It feels amazing to be able to say I'm a two-time national champion," Malkamaki told a reporter at the California meet. "I was hoping for a bigger distance today, but I think that will come later this summer. This summer, I want to hit 14 meters. That was my collegiate goal this year, and I got pretty close."

She will get another chance in Paris during the world championships.

Malkamaki is still new to adaptive athletics, yet she won nationals last year in her first season with an Americas record of 12.18 meters.

"Throwing against able-bodied competitors my whole life, I think I was always trying to throw despite having one hand," she said in a 2022 interview. "Then throwing with people who looked like me and are disabled athletes ... I see how they use [their disability] to their advantage, and the different things they do. It's been really eye-opening."

As Malkamaki prepares for the world championships, she also is pointing herself toward next summer's Paralympic Games, which will also be held in Paris.

"It's a great long-term goal of mine," she says. "It's been really motivating."

A world record in California suggests that she's on the right track to return to France in back-to-back years.