Stephen Miller: Despite a below par Olympics, I can now get the hip operation I need
I’ve done my fair share of victory parades – in 2004 I shared a float with the soon to be Dame Kelly Holmes and I also had some bling to show off. It was nothing compared to last Monday though, the vast crowds stretched as far back as you could see and the energy from the crowd was immense. Everyone just wanted to show how proud they were of this Great British team that competed so well in their home games.
In the morning I was wondering if I’d made the right decision to stay and take part in the parade, feeling a bit fraudulent at my lack of personal glory to show off and celebrate, but the crowd cheered whether you showed them something shiny or not. The positivity around London after hosting such a successful Games was infectious and to be part of that special moment as we went through Trafalgar Square is something that will stay with me for life – I don’t think we’ll see such scenes again.
It’s been over two weeks since I entered the Olympic stadium and the thought of it still makes me sick. Normally after even the slightest below par performance I tear myself to bits in the days and weeks to come, but I haven’t done that this time. I think I’m too heartbroken this time, it’s a weird empty feeling that took over as soon as I left the cage that fateful Friday morning. I normally rise to a challenge, to the big day but for the first time I ducked out miserably when it meant so much to me, and there was nothing I or anyone else could do about it.
Did I let the occasion get to me? Did the noise from the crowd affect me? Did I want it too much? Probably, yes, but the reality is that I have been struggling for a long time and haven’t been truly happy with myself since 2010 in terms of training and how I felt in my throwing.
The dream was to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and to be competitive, broken hip or not. We achieved it and I have never worked harder up to any other championship, I was probably in the best physical shape of my life but my body wouldn’t allow me to get near my potential – that is more frustrating than you can ever imagine and I’ve had to deal with that frustration for the best part of 3 years.
I have no regrets, people might now say I should’ve had the hip replacement 2 years ago. I made the decision to hold off for London, knowing the pain I would have to go through and knowing I would probably not be able to throw to my true potential. I qualified for the team legitimately, following up my world championship bronze performance with two 30+ metre performances this year and also winning the European Championships. For the first time, though, I went into a major championship a bit behind and knowing I needed to find something to get amongst the medals.
I was ranked fifth going into the competition and was targeting 32-33 metres to win a medal, I had thrown this far in training albeit not consistently in the week leading up. In the end I would have needed to put 32cm on my personal best to get bronze (36.32m) and I know I wasn’t fit enough to do that.
The class 51s took everyone by surprise, I think they all threw personal or seasonal bests and I got beat on distance by the gold and silver medallists, which is ridiculous. When the first athlete to throw broke the world record with his first throw I said “Shit, here we go”.
The 51 class hasn’t progressed for many years so I guess they were due a day like that. As it turned out, 32.50 metres would’ve put me 4th and my season’s best would’ve put me 7th (30.71m). Little consolation, then. With 9 class 32s and 8 class 51s in the competition I’ll never understand why it was combined but hopefully it will be separated in future as there are now plenty of athletes in each class on the rankings.
I don’t think I will ever get over my performance of 26.70m, my worst performance this year (and that includes throwing into a gale at Gateshead) – it was an absolute shocker of monumental proportions. I really can’t say anything positive about it apart from I did get two throws measured at exactly the same distance – impressive!
I’ve given up trying to explain it, I don’t think we’ll ever know what really happened, I felt fine in warm up, if a bit nervous. It will have to go down as a freak bad day – I haven’t had many in 17 years of competing at the highest level, just sods’ law it happened in London. I hate saying this because its so cliché but I felt so sorry for my long suffering coach (mam) who put so much time and effort into getting me to London and had me throwing really well in Portugal. I was so sad I didn’t put in a performance that did justice to all the hard work and heart ache. Same goes to my fiancé Rachel who did a sterling job organising tickets and the Team Miller t-shirts.
For now I’m preparing for my total hip replacement which I’m having on the 4th of October, and then I start the long journey back to fitness. Being pain free for the first time in just about 6 years will make everything easy to take on though I’m sure.Tagged in: London 2012, olympics, paralympics, stephen miller
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