A Few Closing Notes

athensflameHappy Christmas everyone, hope you all had a good one. Thanks to all my friends and family who made it a good one for me. I got well spoilt, which is unusual for someone as old as me. I got a picture of myself and a pink cardigan  – so I couldn’t be happier. The pic on the left is the one I got (without the watermark of course), it’ll look great on my wall.

As Mr Akabusi says – the past is for reference not residence but it’s always good to have open access to some of your greatest memories, as is the case with this picture.

It’s hard to believe this year is almost over, next year will be my last full year as a twenty-something year old, which is even harder to believe. Every year is another story, this year has probably been one of the most eventful and toughest yet. I frantically worked on completing the writing of my autobiography at the start of the year to ensure that it could be released in time for Beijing. I had the best winter of my life and went warm weather training in April in great shape. My first nephew, Ben, also arrived in April and life couldn’t get much better. In May my hip flared up worse than ever and I lost at the Paralympic World Cup for the third time in a row.  In June I basically spent a month in the gym as I was unable to throw or compete, it was a hard time and I didn’t know if I would be able to compete in Beijing or not. I met a lovely girl in June too. I competed at the end of July and threw a new unofficial world record, but was very much struggling with my fitness, I truly believe that my great winter carried me through to Beijing. Everyone knows what happened in Beijing,  the experience will stay with me forever, and it still gives me goosebumps when I think about my last throw and what would’ve happened if I’d fluffed it. Since Beijing it’s been a roller-coaster, I seem to have gotten more recognition than ever, whether that’s because of the increased coverage or my book I don’t know, probably a bit of both. The end of the year has been tough, my hip has got worse since Beijing, and this is the first time in 13 years I haven’t been able to do a full winter’s training, which is very weird and frustrating. A lot of things are uncertain going into 2009 but I look forward to next year with lots of hope and anticipation and excitement. So here’s to another year of life with plenty of stuff going on, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

politics

Rather surprisingly my photo is on the cover of a book about the cultural politics of the Paralympics(right). I’m not sure what cultural politics is, but I’m sure its very interesting, although I’m not entirely sure if I should be getting royalties for the use of my picture. Anyhow, here’s some pretty deep thoughts to finish the year with…

Desire, dedication, routine, planning and positivity are the keys to success, but a willingness to listen and adapt to change are fundamental.

Not knowing when you’re beat is a great characteristic to have. When under extreme pressure, if you think about the consequences of failing you’re done for. If you think you might fail, you will.

You can’t please everyone, and you never will so don’t try, and the hardest person to please is yourself. Self-fulfilment is a never ending quest, as long as you completely believe in what you’re doing you’ll be fine.

All the perceptions you have of yourself and others will probably be completely wrong, its good to not get totally absorbed by your routines and self confidences, a bit of vulnerability and naivety helps us to cope with the complex world we live in. People change, situations change, things change – it’s how you react that counts.

See you in 2009.

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Sports Personality 2008

hayeSo it was off to SP08 at European Capital of Culture – Liverpool. Sadly there was a distinct lack of personality and culture at the Echo arena. I know that world class athletes train like machines and are almost robot-like in performance, but some of the condenders for sports personality took that approach a tad too far. Most notably Bradley Wiggins, who gave possibly the worst interview I’ve ever witnessed – likening winning Olympic gold medals to ‘ticking boxes’. I know as a top sportsperson you have to stay focussed and keep your feet on the ground but every now and again it helps to get excited when you achieve  something special. Lewis Hamilton was equally as dull, it’s just not what people watching want to hear, they want excitement, passion and humanity – which is why Chris Hoy was a worthy winner.

burleyThe Paralympics enjoyed high coverage this year and the profile of Paralympic sport has greaty increased. However I can’t help but feel that the BBC bottled it a bit, because I thought Dave Roberts should’ve been in the 10 having equalled Tanni’s record – something that has gone strangely unrecognised – they didn’t need 4 cyclists in the top 10, at least one Paralympian should’ve been in. I also thought Paralympics GB should’ve been up for team of the year and Tim Reddish for coach of the year for Paralympic swimming. I worry that Ellie Simmonds might succeed Tanni as the tokenistic disabled athlete – really pleased she won the award though.

watsonIt’s quite annoying the stick that athletics is getting. It’s true that in both Olympics and Paralympics, athletics is the most competitive sport by far, with 150 contries competiting for the medals. While I realise athletics needs to improve, I think it’s unfair to compare us to other, less competitive sports. People say Paralympic sport is moving foward in terms of parity with able-bodied sport, but I think it remains in the same position as where I was sitting at Sports Personality 08 – right at the back!

Signed Books for Sale!

millercover648pxI’ve got a limited number of my books for sale, direct from me. They’re all personally signed and I can add a personal message on request.

I’m charging £10 per book with free postage. If you are interested just get in touch and we’ll sort it out.

It’s first come first served, so don’t hang about as I don’t have many to sell.

Just to update you on the book signing news, I’m now signing books on 20th December at Blyth’s Keel Row Shopping Centre from 10.30am til 12.30pm – I’m then in Borders at Silverlink on the same day from 1pm onwards.

So you’ve got no excuse not to have my book on your book shelf for Christmas.

Doctor Doctor…

doctorI feel like a pair of curtains. – Go out and buy some then.

Yes, I thought of that ‘joke’ all by myself, and yes, this is possibly the worst photo of me ever but it’s the best I’ve got so it’ll have to do. I wouldn’t care but they were taking photo’s of us for half a bloody hour in the freezing cold, the funniest moment was when someone gave me Victoria’s gold medal thinking it was mine – I was nearly off with it too!

This wasn’t a fancy dress party gone wrong, I was receiving an honorary doctorate in civil law from Northumbria University for my services to Paralympic sport. It was a special occasion and it was a proud moment to go back to Northumbria 6 years after graduating in Business Information Systems. It was a bit weird getting such a grand honour without doing any work for it, I don’t even know what civil law is but my girlfriend bought me a book on it so I’ll be an expert soon.  It means I not have lots of letters  after my name, I think my full title is – Stephen Miller Bsc(hons), Hon.Dcl.

Quite a mouthful but it looks good all the same. I’d like to thank Northumbria for their hospitality on the day, they were first class. Don’t forget to vote for me on Sunday night at the Sports Personality of the Year – oh damn, I forgot you can’t. Vote for Chris Hoy instead then.

Christmas Time

A patch of frost
is rudely unsettled from its slumber, as
a well coated man scrubs
the windscreen of his car.
A carpet
of morning sparkle covers all
that is bare and has braved the
night.
The wide blue sky looks warm but feels so cold
as low flying sun-rays glare through
buildings and across rooftops.
An elderly woman
with an eye for a bargain
carefully treads past,
she breaks an icy expression to send a smile.

It’s true that Christmas time has begun.

North East Sports Awards 2008

ne_sports_winners_470x283Here’s me behind Tony Jeffries at the North East Sports awards that were held at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre on Sunday. Tony won the main Personality of the Year award – an award that has eluded me throughout my career and continues to do so. Well done to Tony though, well deserved.

It was a very different awards night to previous years,  the venue ensured that. It was my first visit to the Aquatic Centre and it’s a brilliant facility for swimming and diving,  although I’m not convinced its a great place for holding awards ceremonies – I thought I was going to end up in the pool a few times. Something a bit different though I guess.

I was up for 3 awards (Performance, Disabled Sportsperson, and Personality of the Year) so I thought I had a decent chance of coming away with one award at least. To my surprise I won the very first award of the night for Performance of the Year, beating Paul Collingwood and a horse! It’s a prestigious award to win so I was very proud. Every time I see footage of my last throw in Beijing I sit there willing it to go a bit further, but like I said on the night – it was a pretty awesome throw in the circumstances. Thanks to all the people that nominated me for awards.

I also jointly won Disabled Sportsperson of the Year along with all the regions medallists from the Beijing Paralympics. Now again it was nice to win the award, but at risk of being controversial, I’d say that not picking an individual winner wasn’t a good decision and watered down the award somewhat. I’m not necessarily saying that I should have won it, but someONE should have because the whole point of awards is that someone wins them and someone is disappointed, that’s life and you get on with it, I’ve had my fair share. By sharing it between 4 people the award was devalued and it didn’t represent equality – even harking of the old pat on the head approach to disability sport, where everyone gets something for taking part. As my girlfriend pointed out, the main award wasn’t shared between all the Olympic medallists, so why should the disabled award be any different?

Ever since I started doing sport one of my ambitions has been to win the North East Sports Personality of the Year, when I tell that to people they tend to look at me like I’ve got two heads, I guess because it’s unthinkable a disabled person could win the main award and after all, that’s what the Disabled Sports Person of the Year is for. However my arguement is that if we had true equality in sport there would be no need for a disabled award.

Hmmm ok rant over.  Two out of three awards is good!