Crackers!

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It’s all going a bit crackers for me at the moment, I’m busier than the bizzies on Newbiggan Hall. Last night I managed not to blow up Blyth despite the dodgy looking plunger. With the help of Cacapa we got the lights to come on and start off the countdown to Christmas. There was a fantastic turn out dispite the freezing cold whether, and my hand is pretty sore from signing autographs for an hour in the Keel Row afterwards. It was a great honour and I hope I get to do it again in the future.

There was no rest for me as I sped straight off down the A1 to Hardwick Hall for the Local Heroes awards dinner, where I picked up a special award of Ambassador for Sport. You know you’re getting old when you get awards like  that, its really nice though to be recognised as a ‘sporting legend’, their words not mine.

I’m in Borders at Team Valley tomorrow (29th) signing my book ‘Paralympian’, so get your perfect Christmas gift while stocks last! Haha only joking, just come and buy the bloody book.

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Back to Black

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I’ve been getting plenty of wear out of my tuxedo lately, I’m actually starting to run out of tie/shirt combinations to make it look different. I was at City Hall most recently for a Legends dinner honouring Alan Shearer and Raising money for the McCrory Foundation. Was a good night, and I’d like to mention Jack Charlton, Jack Hickson and Sir Bobby Robson – who all commended my performance in Beijing, it makes me very humble when such great people notice my achievements.

bully2The pictures with this post are from an anti-bullying conference that i was speaking at. The conference was a great success and its important for disabled people to air their thoughts openly and discuss their problems, hopefully I was able to add some context to the conference theme. Thanks to Fraser Gill for these pictures – they rock.

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I’m Talking about this for the last time…

As promised here are some of the reasons I feel harshly done to by UKA, my last winge on this, honest –

 

1)     Performance – Sure, punish athletes for bad performances and reward athletes for good performances. I can’t think of any way that my performance in Beijing can be classed as bad or poor – 34.37 metres was the furthest I’ve ever thrown in a major competition, 2.5% over my Paralympic Record from Athens 2004 and 5.3% progression from my winning distance in Assen IPC World Championships 2006. I’d been unbeaten in all major championships for 12 years up to Beijing, I have progressed my performances steadily for 12 years and am still improving.

2)     Injury – I’ve been having problems with my left hip for about 2 years, it had settled down during last winter and I began the season throwing extremely well in training. However I aggravated the hip in May and couldn’t train properly for the rest of the season. I had to dig deep just to get to Beijing, going through a lot of pain and having two cortisone injections of the way. It makes me even more proud of my performance to think of what I had to go through and what kind of shape I was in – it’s a real kick in the teeth to be dropped in funding after it all for being pipped to gold.

3)     Competition – My competition is strong, it has always been strong as it is combined with the F51 class, so I’m always up against the world record holder in that class. There is a lot of strength in depth too, there was 13 in the event and 29 metres was required to get into the top 8 – 29 metres had won bronze in Athens.

4)     The Tunisian – Mourad Idoudi has been around in my classification since 2005 when he threw 23metres at the CPISRA World Games, he threw 23 metres again at the IPC World Championships in 2006. At this year’s Paralympic World Cup he had a new way of throwing and threw 32.5 metres. Before the competition I told UKA managers that I was wary of his classification and I asked them to protest but they wouldn’t. He has massive trunk range and power, his performance in Beijing was very unexpected, 35.77m is a 12 metre (33.9%) improvement in two years and isn’t natural progression for a 24 year old. He never warms up for competitions, which is very strange. 

5) London 2012 Potential – I’m still ranked number 1 in the world this year with 35.98m, which was not ratified as a world record because there was no doping at the competition, but the competition was IPC ratified. After struggling through injury to get to Beijing I now have time to get myself fully fit for Christchurch and London, when I was fit up to March and April I was throwing consistently 36-38 metres, so I’m confident I can stay ahead of the competition even if the Tunisian stays in my class, which I doubt. I’m going to focus 100% on club which will also help.

 

An update on my current situation, I’m back in training at last, albeit not full training, and I’m having a hip arthroscopy in January to see whats going on in there. Onwards and upwards.

Turn on the Bright Lights

As the festive season begins, I’ve got a few exciting gigs coming up which I thought might interest you, for a few seconds anyway. On the 27th of November I’m switching on the lights in Blyth alongside Newcastle United’s Claudio Cacapa. Its really nice to be asked to do this and hopefully I won’t blow up Blyth. If you’re near Blyth, get yourself down and say hello.

I’m attending UKA annual awards dinner on 29th November, my money’s on Christine O and Mr Weir. I guess its pretty obvious from the poll on the right hand side that I’m not too chuffed with UKA for dropping my funding based on the fact I didn’t win gold in Beijing, I have my reasons for feeling hard done by which I will publish later, but it seems ironic that after funding loads of knackerjobs for the last 10 years they’ve taken a hard-line approach with me the first time I haven’t won a major for 12 years – just my luck methinks. Anyway the awards should be good.

Northumbria University are awarding me an honourary doctorate in civil law for my services to sport. Its very nice and I’m warming to the idea of being Dr Miller, but it feels like I’m cheating when people work their backsides off to get doctorates. Seriously though, it will be a special day when I ‘graduate’ on the 8th of December at Newcastle’s City Hall.

dsc01611My autobiography ‘Paralympian’ is still going strong, and I’ll be on the road trying to ensure that my book is filling lots of stockings this Christmas. So far I’m confirmed doing signings on the 29th November at Borders, Team Valley from 11.30am til 2pm. On the 20th December I’ll be penning my books at Borders, Silverlink from 12pm til 2.30pm. Don’t miss out on the perfect Christmas gift!

I’m off to Coventry tommorrow, not because nobody likes me, its to see a hip specialist as my hip is still giving me jip. So we’ll see what the verdict is, hopefully nothing too drastic.

Where’s Lewis’s Personality

Lewis Hamilton became the youngest F1 driver ever recently and he will be top of the running for this year’s BBC sports personality, deservedly so. Whether you like him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s good at what he does and is a gifted driver, but his personality is suspect. I was taken back by the way he way he talks about his brother (who has cerebral palsy) in his autobiography, and his recent article in the News of the World shocked me a bit, his perception of disability is certainly different to the way many disabled people see themselves, especially me.

It is of course up to Lewis how he describes the personal relationship he has with his brother, but some the comments he makes are not helpful to disability sport and indeed disability in general. For years disability groups have been trying to move away from the ‘brave’ tag, and especially in sport we don’t want to be patted on the head for ‘having a go’, we want to be taken seriously and treated as equals. In society it is the same, disabled people don’t want to be treated as 2nd class citizens and denied any of our basic human rights. It’s very similar to Lewis’s campaign against racism which he is very passionate about, yet he talks about his brother quite patronisingly at times.

It is when he says his brother cannot do sport that particularly concerns me, as we all know that his brother would be more that capable of taking part in most sports – bloody hell, if I can go karting anybody can. It’s disappointing, with the recent success of the Paralympics, that a big sports star like Lewis can make such mis-informed comments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Lewis loves his brother and they seem to have a good relationship, I just wish I could sit down with him and explain that being disabled isn’t the end of the world and that his brother could take part in sport up to as high a level as he does. Can you imagine the publicity that it would generate if Lewis’s brother were to take part in the 2012 Paralympics?

Lewis says his brother is his inspiration, but surely it should be the other way around?