New Zealand sprinter says he does not have “the emotional investment or necessary focus and energy to succeed at the highest level in Tokyo”

Double Paralympic sprint champion Liam Malone has announced his decision to retire from athletics at the age of 24.

The New Zealand athlete claimed T44 200m and 400m gold as well as 100m silver behind Britain’s Jonnie Peacock at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio (pictured).

But on Tuesday Malone explained how he feels he does not have “the emotional investment or necessary focus and energy to succeed at the highest level in Tokyo” in order to defend those Paralympic titles in 2020.

“Over the last month I have been reflecting on my position and I have made the difficult decision to retire my running career effective immediately,” he told Athletics New Zealand.

“External events both in and out of my control have taken a toll on my training in the last month and I don’t feel I have the emotional investment or necessary focus and energy to succeed at the highest level in Tokyo.

“Becoming an elite athlete was an incredible journey but life is short, I want to find something that I can commit to and be happy in for a long time,” he added.

“It would be unjust to commit half-heartedly to those who support me, my coach, the supporting organisations, the New Zealand public, sponsors, my friends and family.”

On Twitter, he wrote: “It was a hell of a journey, much love to everyone who backed me in NZ & the amazing support I had from the UK.”

The double below-knee amputee sprinter, who set T43 Paralympic records in both the 200m and 400m in Rio, missed competing at last year’s World Para Athletics Championships in London through injury but worked with Channel 4 during the event.

According to Athletics New Zealand, Malone has taken up a full-time role with the business development team at hi-tech company Soul Machines.