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UK Athletics

no need to relight Miller's fire 

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Stephen Miller
08 October 2014 

Anyone who is familiar with Paralympic sport would find that there are not enough superlatives to describe Stephen Miller, one of GB & NI’s most successful ever Paralympians.  

18 years after his first major gold medal at the Paralympic Games, the 34 year old club thrower is still looking to replicate the feats he set early in his career where he won three consecutive Paralympic titles, broke the world record and went on an extraordinary, unprecedented 12 year unbeaten run in the sport.  

Miller said: “Ijust enjoy doing the sport. I still love competing and being in the team, which is something which inspires me. I want to keep trying to get better and as long as I can do that, I’ll keep doing it. You’re a long time retired and it’s a big part of my life, so I’m going to keep doing it as long as I can.

“I was hoping I could win gold in Swansea (at this year’s IPC European Championships) but I didn’t quite do that. To get back on the podium was really nice because I hadn’t been there since before London. Hopefully I’ll go to Doha next year get back on a podium on a world level which will give me a lot of confidence going up to Rio. The main goal is to win in Rio and add another gold top my collection.

“I think 2017 is going to be a big year for a lot of athletes in GB with it being in London and back in the Olympic Stadium. For me it’s definitely a target to get to the World Championships to put right what went wrong in the Paralympics in 2012. Hopefully I’ll get to compete there and then I might have to take a step back and re-evaluate what I want to do with my life and whether I want to keep competing or not.”

There haven’t been many disappointments in Miller’s trophy-laden career and while his participation in London was severely hampered by a hip injury, captaining his country on the biggest stage remains one of his biggest highlights of a career.

“It was a great honour to be captain in London. To be able to lead the team out and compete on the first morning of the Games was a great experience, it’s just a shame my body let me down at the time I needed it most. However, I’ve got no regrets about it.”  

While a 12th place finish wasn’t what Miller had envisaged, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The five-time Paralympic medallist was soon on the operation table for a hip replacement and was now facing one of the biggest challenges in his career. Having not been able to walk for a period of three years leading up to London, he tasked himself with a 10 month challenge of being able to walk down the aisle to marry long-term girlfriend Rachel.

No one would have doubted the courage and determination of Miller, and he didn’t disappoint, delivering like he has done throughout his athletics career.  

“I like to set goals and after I had my hip replaced post-London, I wanted to get back to being able to walk because I hadn’t been able to do that in the three years up to the Paralympic Games. I said to the doctor I want to walk again and he said go for it. To be able to walk down the aisle to Rachel was a very special moment with all my friends and family there. It was the biggest day of my life even with the Paralympic Games I’ve competed in,” added Miller, who was awarded the freedom of Cramlington in honour of his sporting achievements and community work in February.    

The 2014 European silver medallist, who was born with cerebral palsy is living proof that you can achieve at the highest level for many years and hopes that he can inspire others to fight against adversity.

“Because I train so hard, my cerebral palsy improved as I’ve got older. As I get stronger, I get better and I think it’s a good measure to other people who have cerebral palsy that you can do sport and improve your condition. It can make you have a better quality of life.”

While he continues to flourish on the major stage, he is seeing a great depth of youngsters coming through including 14 year old double European champion Maria Lyle and believes that this will be the lasting legacy once the day comes when he throws his club for the last time.

“It’s really important to have the next generation of athletes coming through. I’ve been around nearly 20 years, competing in Atlanta well before Maria Lyle was born, which makes me feel really old. However, it’s really nice to see for the future of disability athletics and to have all these athletes coming through, which is promising looking ahead to Rio and Tokyo in 2020.

“When the time comes, I think people will see me as someone who enjoyed doing sport, trained really hard. I made the most of what I had and pushed the boundaries of what I could achieve in terms of performance but not taking it too seriously. Sport is there is to be enjoyed and I hope I’ve encouraged more disabled people to take part.

What is cerebral palsy? Cerebral palsy is the general term for a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and coordination. Specifically, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles.

You can follow Stephen Miller on Twitter via @hailfabio