It's a Lightning Round episode of Keep the Flame Alive Podcast! Lightning Rounds feature past guests (aka TKFLASTANIS) answering similar questions to get their hot takes on the Olympics and Paralympics.

Lightning Round with Noelle Malkamaki

Release Date: May 22, 2024

Category: Blog | Para Athletics

On May 22, TKFLASTANI para shot putter Noelle Malkamaki is competing at her second Para Athletics World Championships, where she’s the defending champion in the F46 shot put. We put Noelle through our lightning round of Paralympics-related questions. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Jill: What’s your first memory of the Paralympics?

Noelle Malkamaki: It would have to be when my coach brought it up to me, my junior year of college. Yeah, that late.

Jill: Did you know Tokyo 2020 even existed?

Noelle Malkamaki: I think I knew, but I wasn’t like conceptualizing it in a way that it was, it meant anything for me necessarily.

Alison: What’s your first memory of the Olympics?

Noelle Malkamaki: I played soccer for 10 years, so I remember watching soccer at the Summer Olympics like every year from when I was conscious.

Jill: And what year would that be?

Noelle Malkamaki: Oh, do I want to say? Oh, come on. Come on. I was born in 2001, so I’m trying to think of what year it would have been.

Alison: It’s probably ’08.

Noelle Malkamaki: Probably Beijing. Yeah, Beijing. Probably then.

Alison: See, this is why your mom and I had such a lovely chat. Because we are of an age.

Noelle Malkamaki: There you go.

Alison: With daughters of an age.

Jill: Where do you keep your world championship medal?

Noelle Malkamaki: It’s on my bookshelf right now.

Jill: Do you get like a certificate because you got a world record?

Noelle Malkamaki: I don’t think so. Nope. Nope. Bragging rights. That’s it.

Jill: What is your favorite training exercise?

Noelle Malkamaki: Back squats.

Alison: Blah.

Jill: Fair enough. Talk about what a back squat is really quickly.

Noelle Malkamaki: Yeah. So a back squat is where I load a bunch of weight on the bar and then I just squat down and up. Something specifically for shot put that I like is partial back squats. So you don’t go to parallel. You go a little higher than parallel because that’s the actual position your legs are in while you’re throwing so it trains specific strength and you can get really explosive with a lot of weight so you can be even more explosive with less weight and I think those translate over to glide shot put really, really well.

Alison: If you could be an Olympian or Paralympian in any sport, what would you pick and why?

Noelle Malkamaki:  I’m always intrigued by Olympic rugby. Like I’m sure you know who Ilona Maher is. I think she’s amazing. And I also think that if I had a chance to play rugby. Like when I was younger, if that had been an option for me, I think I would have been good at it.

Jill: It’s the thighs. It’s the massive leg power.

Noelle Malkamaki: It’s the thighs and it’s the shoulders. I’m telling you.

Jill: What sports are you looking forward to seeing at the Paralympics that you may not be aware of?

Noelle Malkamaki: Wheelchair rugby. I have seen a lot of that and I’m like, this is sick. Like I got to go see this while I’m there. They seem very intense and I appreciate that.

Alison: I will be there every day that I can. There we go. So say hello. I will. Trust me, you’ll hear me.

Jill: She’s obsessed.

Alison: I am obsessed. It’s a little scary.

Jill: What is your favorite souvenir from Track and Field?

Noelle Malkamaki: That’s tough. I collect magnets from when I travel. I never got one in Paris. I don’t know if I was just like, so my brain was just scrambled by everything that was going on, but I do have some magnets from other places that I’ve traveled to. Like, my first big para meet was Nationals in Florida, so I have a little magnet from Florida, and every time I see it I’m like, oh, that’s kind of where it started. So that’s sweet.

Alison: So now you have to go back to Paris. Exactly. Just because I didn’t get any souvenirs.

Jill: Excellent. Noelle, thank you so much.