SIMON Miller admits it is his ultimate goal to win a Paralympic medal in London in 2012.
The former Durrington High School pupil and Littlehampton Swimming Club member competes in the S9 para category. He is aiming to compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle in London and everything he does in the next 16 months is geared up to the Games.
With the excitement building and tickets now on sale, he said: “Most of my training is very much geared towards London 2012.
“There are other events along the way to compete at, such as the IPC Swimming European Championships in Berlin later this year, which I am looking to qualify for, but the Paralympic and Olympic Games are the pinacle competition for any athlete.
“It really is an ultimate goal for me to compete and medal at a Paralympic Games, so I am very much looking forward to the Games in London 2012 and am working hard towards qualifying for them.”
Miller, who was born without a right hand, had previously represented Great Britain in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, when he finished 14th in the 50m freestyle and 13th in the 100m freestyle, and cannot wait for the Games to be in his home country. He said: “I think it’s amazing that the games will be on my home turf, as it were. It brings an even bigger level of excitement, as I can imagine the home crowd support will be overwhelming, which can also give a great boost of confidence and performance.”
Miller, who won silver in the 50m freestyle in the Commonwealth Games in October and is ranked sixth in the world for that event, still has to qualify for the Games and admits that will not be easy: “There is a lot of very tough competition to make the GB squad for 2012, mainly against the clock.
“I have been Britain’s fastest S9 catagory swimmer in the 50m and 100m freestyle for a number of years but there are other athletes nipping at my heels.
“The main thing which is tough are the times I will have to achieve to make the GB squad, as they are set against the world rankings list and are very tough with swimmers from Australia and China out in front in my catagory at the moment.
“But, the way I am training and how I have progressed in recent years, I would realistically be targeting to be a finalist at the London Games but, obviously, I am hunting for a medal and I think I have good chance of that if everything goes my way.”
Miller got involved with swimming at a young age and said: “I got into disabiltiy swimming through an after-school club (Davison Junior Club) and swam for the Sussex Squids in various pools around West Sussex, mainly Littlehampton.
“I also trained with a Colchester disability group, called Colchester Pheonix where their coach, Maggie Hargreaves, an ex-Paralympic swimmer, noticed my talent and helped me progress my swimming.
“When I was around 15, I joined the mainstream club, Littlehampton Swimming Club, as they are a competitive swimming club with lots of training sessions. My swimming improved a lot and to get the most out of my potential, I made the move to Manchester two years before the Beijing games in hope to progress and qualify
“From training there, I managed to qualify for the Beijing games and I have learned a lot there and am still improving every week.”
Miller trains full-time with Manchester, with nine two-and-a-half hour pool sessions and nine 30-minute gym sessions every week and he said: “It is a very intense training regime designed to get the best out of yourself.”
Miller welcomes any sponsorship heading into the 2012 Games. Anyone interested can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org