4th Time Unlucky… Again – Silver Medal at IPC European Championships in Swansea

swanseaI recently bounced back to medal winning form in Swansea at the IPC European Athletics Championships, taking the Silver Medal in the Men’s F32 Club Throw on Tuesday 19th August.

It was a case of dejavu for me, as just like in the Paralympics at Beijing and in the World Championships at Christchurch, was denied a 4th consecutive title. I guess 4 just isn’t my lucky number.

Having won at all three previous IPC European Championships dating back to 2003, I set out my defence on the first morning of the games held in Swansea.

A strong field of 10 athletes made for a tense and tight competition. I produced a best throw of 30.68m and was in the lead until Vladislav Frolov of Russia threw a massive personal best of 34.10m to push me down to second place. Poland’s Maciej Sochal took bronze with 29.59m, while Britain’s Thomas Green took 4th with a good performance of 28.43m.

The competition featured most of the top ranked athletes in the world this year, and for me it was a return to the medal podium for the first time since having a total hip replacement after the London Paralympics. After the operation I was told there was only a 50/50 chance of competing at the highest level again. The standard was very good as usual in the F32 Club Throw, and the new IPC rules were enforced strictly but fairly by the officials – I think they will only make seated throws fairer and more competitive in years to come, so well done for IPC for implementing them.

swansea2It was a great competition and I really enjoyed being out there mixing it up with the best in the world. I came here to defend my title and I think I could’ve thrown a bit further (as I always  do). The performance of the winner was a shock, but this can happen in disability sport, and it’s happened to me a few times in the past. Overall though I’m happy and proud with another medal. Big thanks go out to Ros my coach, Speedflex, my physio Penny at The Performance Clinic, my chiropractor Andy at ThinkChiropractic, Mannatech, The National Lottery and everyone else who has supported me this year.

This was my 26th international medal spanning 19 years of competing for my country. I competed at the 20th Gateshead Harriers’ Tartan Games on Sunday (24th August) which is also the first anniversary of my marriage to Rachel. Hard to believe it’s been a year as it seems like yesterday, but we celebrated in style at the Hilton with steak and champaigne.

I have one more competition before the season draws to a close, the CP National Championships in Grantham. It’s been a good but frustraiting season in many ways, I feel I’m in the best physical shape I’ve been in for many years but haven’t quite delivered the performance to match that, my consistancy is improving through so I’m aiming to end the season on a high before having a well earned break. It’s a massive year next year with the IPC World Championships in Doha.

Don’t forget the 100% Stephen Miller Exhibition is on display at Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport until 5th September – Get along to it! And if you’d would like to host the enhibition or buy a print contact Dan Prince – dan@danprince.co.uk – http://www.danprince.co.uk/index.php/news/

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Paralympian Stephen Miller Launches ‘100%’ Photo Exhibition Days Before Defending European Crown

Stephen Miller, a three time gold medal winning Paralympian, is all set to defend his European F32 Club Throw title at the IPC European Athletics Championships which are being held from the 18th-23rd August in Swansea. Stephen is bidding to win his 4th consecutive European Gold Medal in Club Throw having won in all IPC European Championships which have been held since 2003.

Before Stephen heads down the M1 to Swansea, he is launching a special photography exhibition called ‘100% Stephen Miller’. The exhibition, which has been crafted by photographer Dan Prince, comprises of photos taken over a two year period. Stephen, who with his wife Rachel founded SMILE Through Sport late last year, is hoping the exhibition will shed some light on the life of a professional sportsperson and can provide some motivation to those who come to see it.

Stephen said “To represent Great Britain again at the IPC European Championships is a huge honour, I’m in good shape and am confident I can deliver a performance to be proud of. Launching the 100% exhibition the week before I go to Swansea will be great, I had a lot of fun working with Dan and the photos look amazing. I hope lots of people will come and see it and get inspired to give 100%.”

The exhibition will be on show to the public at Gateshead College Academy for Sport from 17th August – 5th September. Then it will be on the move to venues all over the North East.

More information is available on Twitter @100PercentSM and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/100PercentStephenMiller

The aims of the exhibition are to raise awareness of Paralympic sport and also provide inspiration that giving 100% can help you achieve great things.

More Information

Interview opportunity:
Wednesday 13th August 2014
10.30am
Gateshead College, Baltic Business Quarter, Quarryfield Road, Gateshead, NE8 3BE
Please contact Dan Prince on 07763417346 or dan@danprince.co.uk

This will be Stephen’s last public appearance ahead of the IPC European Athletics Championships.

IPC European Championships have been held in 2003 (Assen), 2005 (Espoo) and 2012 (Stadskanaal). Stephen has attended all three and won Gold at each one. He is one of only three British athletes defending his title in Swansea.

Both Stephen Miller and Dan Prince will be available for interview on Wednesday 13th August. Please contact Dan on 07763417346.

100% Me!

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Happy to officially announce the first opening to 100% Stephen Miller exhibition. Retweet, share and spread the word – please come and see it, I promise it won’t put you off your dinner.

Been a busy year so far, it’s going far too quick. I was delighted to receive the news that I was selected in the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team for the IPC European Championships, to be held in Swansea – http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/media/news/2014-news-page/july-2014/22-07-14-swansea-team/

My event is on 19th August and it’s shaping up to be a great competition, currently less than a metre separate the top 5 in the world and 3 of the top 5 are European. The Club Throw has traditionally been one of the most competitive events in disability athletics and it looks like that’s going to continue, with plenty of young athletes coming through. I’ve had a decent season so far without really hitting top form, frustratingly I’m just 22cm off the World Lead but we’re confident there’s more to come. 

This will be my 4th IPC European Championships stretching back to 2003 and I’m defending an undefeated record in the Club Throw. It’s my 13th consecutive major championships representing GB – basically I’ve been around donkeys years – but it doesn’t get any less exciting and I’m looking forward to another great competition in front of a home crowd. 

Once again thanks to all who’ve helped me get here, now it’s time to push the button.

Stephen Steals Variety’s Heart

 

 

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variety1This month has paid tribute to one of the North East’s most inspiring names, at an event hosted by a national organisation that he holds very close to his heart.

Variety, the Children’s Charity, Northern Region and the area’s dedicated committee of volunteers have spent the past few months organising the event, to honour the three time gold medallist, Paralympian, Stephen Miller, for his ambition, dedication and undeniably charitable nature.

The black tie event which was held at the Hilton Hotel Newcastle Gateshead was a night full of inspirational tales and charitable donations, resulting in a celebration of not only one local hero but North East culture as a whole.

variety3Stephen Miller, one of the regions’ most decorated athletes was joined by family, friends and humble fans to receive Variety’s highest accolade; the Silver Heart Award, which in this instance has been replaced with a special edition Gold Heart Award to match Stephen’s already extensive trophy cabinet. Miller, from Cramlington, was born with cerebral palsy and has represented his country at five straight Paralympic Games – including London 2012 where he captained the male athletics team.  Now the three time gold medallist club thrower is the proud recipient of the charity accolade, for his inspirational life-story and ongoing support to both Variety and the local disability sport sector, adding to his hugely successful career haul of 25 international medals.  During the evenings’ entertainment video tributes were played from Alan Shearer, Jonathan Edwards and Steven Taylor and the event was expertly hosted by Jeff Brown.

Stephen comments:

“I am flattered to be presented with this award and am extremely thankful that organisations like Variety exist to help children with disabilities. The night was a huge success and it was great to see so many familiar faces together in one place, not only to have a good night and let their hair down but to raise money for children and families who truly need it.”

varietyOn the night, around 200 guests arrived to a welcoming drinks reception, sponsored by Sintons Law based in Newcastle city centre, followed by a meticulously crafted, three-course meal accompanied by entertainment from popular regional musician and ‘The New Face of Swing’, Glen Roughead who stood alongside The Paul James Band. Later in the evening Variety paid a special tribute to Stephen who gave response and insight into his life and sporting career, proving him to be the true personification of perseverance. Pop Idol’s Jo Birchall also sang on the evening the release of her new charity single, which was written and performed especially for Variety.  The silent auction was a huge success with prizes including a match spent in an Executive box at St James Park and Stephen’s own 2004 Athens Paralympic shirt which both contributed to the overall funds raised of £3000.

Tony Thornton, Chairman of Variety Northern Region comments:

“Stephen is an inspirational individual in everything he has achieved. Not only is he a gold medallist but he is also a web developer, motivational speaker and the Managing Director of SMILE through sport. He is an inspiration within the athletics field and acts as a true reflection of the success rewarded to those with unwavering potential, giving many local children the motivation they need for the future.”

Part of a worldwide charity, Variety, the Children’s Charity, was formed in the UK in 1949. Since then, it has raised more than £267 million to help children and young people throughout the country who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged. Variety believes that neither disability nor disadvantage should prevent any child from reaching his or her full potential. That’s why Variety provides practical help, through a wide range of services, that makes an immediate improvement to the quality of the lives of the children and young people whom it supports.

Following a hip replacement to fix an injury, which resulted in a disappointing 11th place finish in London, Miller is back in training and raring to regain his place as Paralympic club throw champion in Rio 2016, with Variety backing him all the way.

 

Information regarding Variety’s future events are available from the Variety main office on 0191 214 5959 or alternatively you can contact them via email on north@variety.org.uk

Dubai Fly By

dubaiSo I competed in Dubai last week, starting my 2014 season very early at the first competition in the IPC Grand Prix Series. I had competed over there 3 years ago in the inaugural Sharjah Open, last time my experience of Dubai wasn’t great as I couldn’t get out of the hotel apart from to go to the track and to the roof-top swimming pool. This time was much better and I enjoyed the 6 days I had there. Even got into downtown Dubai on the very futuristic tube system and gawped at the tallest building in the world (on the Left). It’s ridiculous how big everything is in Dubai, it really is a place on the up, so it’s also great that they are supporting disability sport over there.

Accessibility was pretty decent, although the hotel didn’t have any rooms without baths so I came home very smelly, and their ‘accessible’ gym was up two flights of stairs. Luckily I had taken my TRX with me so was able to work out and keep myself occupied in the comfort of my room. I competed a couple of days after arriving so my priority was getting over the traveling, I had a slightly stiff back in the week leading up, so it was important to keep myself moving and stretching. Also very important was to top up on vitamin D while I had the chance, I did this while listening to my new audiobook ‘Hitler: The End By Ian Kershaw’.

Of course the reason I was there was to compete, this was a great opportunity to compete against the best guys in my class and see how the new seated throws rules worked out. Basically IPC have decided all seated throwers have to sit down to throw – yes, the irony is hard to ignore. It’s something that should’ve happened as soon as ambulant athletes started being classified in wheelchair classes, however, we are there now and credit to IPC for sticking with it and pushing through the new rules as  I’m sure there would’ve been some strong opposition. In Dubai the officials were very strict, and we now have competitive events again which is fantastic.

As for me, I threw 28.11m which I was a bit disappointed with because I feel in great shape at the minute. I’ve only done 2 throwing sessions this year though, and they were pretty forced due to preparing for this competition and the weather was horrible for both. As a result I was technically bad but to have two throws over 28 metres was positive. I finished 2nd in what turned out to be a pretty tight competition, the biggest plus was that the world record holder Bahlaz was only about a metre ahead of me on 29 metres. Of course I always concentrate on my own performance and I was disappointed because I know it was within me to win. The fact I was disappointed is good though because after the  results in Lyon last  year, the event was threatening to get away from me as well as lots of other F32s, but the new rules have made it a level playing field again and lots of athletes including me will feel they are back in the game. It’s what had to happen because it was starting to get to the point where one or two athletes in every class were getting a long way ahead.

Now  I’m looking forward to heading to Portugal in a few weeks and learning how to throw.

Selections

Well, over 6 weeks into 2014 and it’s time to blog. It’s been a very busy and productive year so far, with starting a business and being awarded honorary freedom of my hometown Cramlington. I’ve been training a bit as well (I am a professional athlete after all). After the excitement and over eating of Christmas and new year, I’ve pushed myself hard throughout January and I really feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, I think this new hip has taken 10 years off me. I’ve been joining in a members session on a Wednesday night at Speedflex and have enjoyed it – even though I do an individual sport and don’t need to be in anyone’s company to have a fierce competition, I do like training with other people and pushing each other to the limit.

This week I’m off to Dubai to compete in the first IPC Grand Prix of the season. It’s a little early in the year for me to compete and I must admit I haven’t done much throwing in the build up to this competition. I’m a fair weather thrower and like to hibernate in the gym in winter. However this competition is a good standard for my event (Top 3 in the world have entered), and it’s a great opportunity to see how the new IPC seated throws rules play out – Nothing the do with the nice hot weather, honest. It’s exciting to have the IPC Grand Prix and it’s important that the athletes support it, I’ve always said we need the top guys competing against each other more regularly, I won the IPC Grand Prix final last year and really enjoyed the competition.

We launched SMILE Through Sport (www.smilethroughsport.com) in January and the interest has been extremely positive. As well as launching in the media, we held a networking day at St. James’ Park which attracted lots of people from a variety of different workplaces and we have lots of exciting projects to get started on. Recently on behalf of SMILE I have spoken at Durham University Castle College at their formal dinner, I felt a bit  like Harry Potter at Hogwarts, it is a beautiful place to study there. I also spoke at Newcastle University along side Tanni Grey-Thompson to mark their disability awareness week – here’s a link to the story http://thecourieronline.co.uk/gold-medal-winners-share-stories-of-success-for-disability-awareness/.

freedomAt the beginning of this month I was very privileged to be the first person ever to receive the Freedom of Cramlington from the town council. I’ve lived in Cramlington all my life so it was very special to get this honour, I now have the freedom of Northumberland, Gateshead and Cramlington, so I’m slowly taking over the North East. It’s not often you get to make your own piece of history, Cramlington is certainly a town that is going places with lots of investment going on – I do my best to shamelessly plug it, I even opened the new Weatherspoons Pub.

See you all soon…

Heart

Heating up and heating up,
we ran as one, like water
you and I.
Words flowed like wine,
fingers entwined,
together we dined.
Our eyes purred,
life blurred,
and now we’re here.
Our hearts rest together.