Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate Liam Malakoff won a gold medal in the two-man canoe event at the 2011 USA Canoe/Kayak Junior Slalom Team Trials in Wisconsin, and came in second in the one-man event, making the national team in both events. But the 18-year-old from Alexandria is philosophical about his future in the sport, according to this fascinating story by the Alexandria Times’ Derrick Perkins, and he probably isn’t going to continue on.
“You put it all out there,” Malakoff told Perkins, “and the chances of actually achieving … anything that really means anything is pretty small. You’re not curing cancer, ending world starvation, even if you win an Olympic medal. I’ve decided I can do more good elsewhere.”
Malakoff and his sister, 13-year-old Eliza, began their whitewater career on the Potomac, and then stepped up to the Bethesda Center for Excellence and high intensity training. But there’s no money from sponsors or any college teams, so post-high school paddlers must go it on their own.
For now, rising high school freshman Eliza will assume the spotlight. She finished second in the national one-woman kayak trials, but was too young for the Junior National Team. “Every river has a different personality,” she told Perkins, “and every single section is completely different. It’s always changing. There’s always something to challenge yourself with.” She didn’t say whether she’ll continue after high school.
Here’s video of Liam in canoe slalom at last year’s team trials: