07 August 2008

Miller is the king of clubs

STEPHEN MILLER is bidding for an incredible fourth consecutive gold medal in Beijing.
Paralympian Miller was born with cerebral palsy but has overcome his physical limitations to break world records and become an inspiration for other disabled athletes.

His discipline is contested by athletes with cerebral palsy who use a wheelchair. They sit and throw a wooden club — which looks like a skittle — backwards into the field of play.

Sounds easy, until you consider that Miller cannot tie his shoelaces or make a cup of tea because of his condition.

Miller, 28, won gold in the club throw in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. He is the world-record holder with throws in excess of 33 metres.

The Newcastle-born star recently published his autobiography titled ‘Paralympian’.

It was launched at St James’ Park and fittingly for the Newcastle United fanatic, the forward was written by Toon boss Kevin Keegan.

Keegan, who has known Miller for a number of years, said: “I know how hard it is to compete at the highest level. It’s no different in any sport.

“It takes dedication, courage and self-belief. Stephen has those qualities in abundance. His story is inspiring.”

Miller said: “My pals say I’m too young to write an autobiography yet! It’s taken me two years but I’m glad I did it!”

The Paralympics — which start in Beijing on September 6 — began life 60 years ago in Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a neurologist working with World War II veterans with spinal injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, began using sport as a vital part of their rehabilitation.

These became known as the Stoke Mandeville Games and in July 1948, Guttmann established competitions to coincide with the London Olympics.

The Paralympics have since become the pinnacle of competition for disabled athletes.

Kelly Holmes, a BT ambassador, said: “The Paralympics are the most inspirational Games and involve the most inspirational people imaginable.

“Many of those competing were once able-bodied but for one reason or another have lost limbs or are in wheelchairs.

“If that happened to me I would be shattered but these are men and women who have turned that into something positive.

“They still have to train hard and be dedicated and focused.

“I really hope when the Paralympics come to London in 2012 the whole nation will get behind them.”

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