FISHERS, Ind. (WISH)– Before Noah Malone was a sprinting champion at the Paralympics in Tokyo, he remembers being a 13-year-old boy trying to cope with some tough news.
His father, Kyle Malone, said on his first day of eighth grade he was having problems with his vision. He went for a routine check-up with the doctor and after some testing, they came back with a diagnosis.
It was Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. It’s an inherited form of vision loss that often results in rapid and permanent loss of vision in both eyes.
“I was losing my vision and I had so many questions in my head,” Noah remembered. “Like, ‘Will I still be able to run track? Will I still be able to read a book?'”
As a kid, he loved multiple sports, but because of his condition, the only sport Noah could compete in was track and field. Yet, he still struggled to make adjustments in the first year of dealing with his new normal. He and his father both recalled times where he would injure himself because he was less aware of his surroundings while running.
Noah says even though it was hard, he focused all of his energy on getting better and with the help of his community and his coaches at Hamilton Southeastern, he was able to raise his expectations.
“I think we knew we were on good footing when he went to HSE his freshman year and broke a couple of school records,” Kyle said.
In 2018, he found out about the Paralympics and decided to try out for Team USA.
He made the team in time to compete in Japan at the Paralympic Games and ended up winning a gold medal and two silvers. While he was at it, the kid who was once scared that he wouldn’t be able to read a book, decided to write one of his own.
It’s called Losing Vision, Not Dreams: Reflections on My Teenage Years. When Noah arrived at the Indianapolis International Airport he was surprised by family, friends, teammates, coaches and more cheering and chanting “U-S-A.” He called that moment the favorite, of his Tokyo experience, outside of stepping on the podium to receive his medals in Japan.
When Noah’s dad was asked about how it felt to welcome his son back and think about all he’s accomplished he said: “He’s our hero.” Kyle said. “He’s my hero.”
Noah returns to his college career as a student-athlete at Indiana State University.
You can find out more about Noah’s new book and follow his journey online.