29 July 2008

Miller's tale of Paralympic success

By Elizabeth Hudson

As the Beijing Paralympics fast approaches, all of the Great Britain team are putting the final touches to their preparations and is the same story for Stephen Miller, who will be chasing yet another gold medal in the club throw.

The 28-year-old will be one of only two competitors on the GB team (javelin thrower Kenny Churchill is the other) who will be bidding for a fourth consecutive individual gold in the same event in Beijing.

Miller's event is contested by athletes with cerebral palsy who use a wheelchair. They sit and throw a wooden club (which looks like a skittle, but weighs almost 400g) backwards into the field of play.

The 28-year-old from Newcastle was born with a form of cerebral palsy which results in a lot of involuntary movement and his F32 category is the most severe cerebral palsy class at the Paralympics.

But he has enjoyed much success in the sport, making his Paralympic debut in 1996 in Atlanta, where he was the youngest member of the GB track and field team, and took gold.

He then went on to retain his title in Sydney and Athens and is the European and world champion and the world record holder.

He is also a noted discus thrower and will compete in both events in Beijing.

Away from the field, Miller has also been working on another major project and after two years of hard work, his autobiography is about to be released.

Entitled Paralympian: My Autobiography, it was launched at Newcastle's St James's Park on Thursday.

Fittingly for Miller, who is a Newcastle United fanatic, the forward to the book has been written by manager Kevin Keegan, who first met him many years ago and has followed his career closely ever since.

Keegan writes: "I know how hard it is to compete at the highest level, and it's no different in any sport.

"It takes dedication, courage and self-belief, and Stephen has those qualities in abundance.

"His story is truly unique and inspiring, and at his young age I'm sure he isn't done yet."

In the book, Miller describes how important it is for him to keep focused on the positives in his life.

"Everyone has things he or she can and can't do.

"When it boils down to it, the things I can't do are pretty boring and mundane - making a cup of tea, tying my shoelaces, cooking a meal, driving a car.

"Admittedly, it can get me down when I realise I probably won't ever be able to do a lot of these things, but not for long.

"Here's why: things could be worse.

"Things can always be worse. Life is life, a gift, a miracle. There will always be someone in the world worse off than you, and that's a good thought to keep in the back of your mind."

Now, as he works towards Beijing, Miller believes that these Games will be his toughest ever, but he insists he will be ready for the challenge.

After recovering from a hip injury, he recently threw a personal best at the Cerebral Palsy National Championships in Nottingham, beating his previous world record mark of 34.93m with a new best of 35.98.

Unfortunately the throw could not be ratified as a world record because it was not an international tournament but it gives him a boost as he gets set to take on his rivals in China.

And success in Beijing will mean another chapter can be added to his life story.

No comments:

Post a Comment