Northumberland ready to cheer on Paralympic hero

Stephen Miller with the medal he won at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.
Stephen Miller with the medal he won at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.
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Northumberland’s very own Paralympic hero will be going for gold in Brazil next week.

Stephen Miller, from Cramlington, will be competing at his sixth consecutive Paralympic Games when he takes to the field in the Olympic Stadium in Rio on Tuesday.

Stephen, who was born with cerebral palsy, will be taking part in the F32 club throw, which is equivalent to the javelin for his disability.

It is the event in which he won Paralympic gold at Atlanta in 1996 – becoming Great Britain’s youngest ever track and field champion at 16 – then Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 followed by a silver in Beijing eight years ago. His performance at London 2012, where he was captain of the men’s athletics squad, was hampered by a hip injury and he has since had a hip replacement.

Speaking to the Independent earlier this week from his training base in Belo Horizonte, Stephen, who was awarded an MBE for services to sport this year, said: “I haven’t won a world medal since 2011 so it would be nice to get back on the podium, that’s my target. It’s going to be a tough competition, like it always is in my event, but I know that if I can hit a big throw I could end with gold.

“I missed out at the last two Paralympics so if I get gold here it would be amazing; 20 years after my first gold. I’m confident I’ll be in the mix.”

The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with Stephen Miller during the Queen's Baton Relay in June 2014.

The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with Stephen Miller during the Queen's Baton Relay in June 2014.

He also spoke about how his mam, who is also his coach, and his brother will be in Rio to support him, thanks to former Newcastle United owner, Sir John Hall, and the Ciccarelli ice cream shop in Blyth, who both donated money to help with the travel costs.

Alongside his impressive record of competing in five Paralympic Games, five World Championships and four European Championships – so far winning 26 international medals – the 36-year-old and his wife Rachel also set up SMILE Through Sport, a community interest company that’s aims are to inspire, educate and promote enjoyment of disability sport.

In 2014, Stephen was one of the Batonbearers in the Queen’s Baton Relay, the curtain-raiser to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, carrying the Baton up to Alnwick Castle to meet the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, ahead of an evening ceremony to mark the passing of the relay through the county into the host nation.

Stephen’s event starts at 10am on Tuesday local time, which is 2pm UK time. Channel 4 is broadcasting live coverage from the Paralympic Games.