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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Dean back on track for shot at Paralympic Games

LONDON Paralympic hopeful Dean Miller is back on the right track following an injury.

The 22-year-old middle-distance runner suffered a calf tear in December but is now back in full training ahead of the biggest eight months of his life.

Barrow-born Miller, who competes in the T37 class (a category for athletes with cerebral palsy), has already achieved both the 800m and 1500m qualification standard times set by the International Paralympic Committee for London, but to guarantee a place he must prove to UK Athletics that he has medal potential.

Miller’s form last summer certainly suggests he has that potential, especially in his favoured 1500m event.

The Barrow and Furness Striders ace clocked a personal best 4:18 at an event in Birmingham in July which put him third in the 2011 world rankings.

His time was also just four seconds outside the T37 world record.

“The injury was a bit of a setback but things are going well again now and the calf feels strong,” said Miller, who having last year completed his studies at Birmingham University now lives in the city and is a full-time athlete under top coach Bud Baldaro.

“I did lots of rehabilitation and it’s helped make the weaker side of my body that much more stronger.

“It also gave me a rest and could end up proving to be a blessing in disguise.”

He added: “Stress fractures to my metatarsal denied me any chance of getting a place to go to the Beijing Paralympics four years ago, but this time round I am determined not to miss out.

“It is my dream to compete in London this year and I am completely focused on achieving that. There is quite a lot of pressure because it’s what I’ve been working towards for years but I feel I can handle it.

“Ideally I will be able to get myself into the top three in the world at 1500m again this year and that way I can force my way into the Paralympic team.

“If I can do that and get some fast times under my belt, I think I have a shot at a medal.”

As part of his preparations, the former Barrow Sixth Form College student, whose dad Pat is a well-respected coach at Barrow and Furness Striders, will spend the next month sleeping in an altitude tent ahead of joining other top athletes at a three-week UK Athletics endurance training camp in the Pyrenees.

Miller said: “It will be my first time at altitude so in advance I will be spending lots of time in an altitude tent in my room.

“The endurance camp should be great for me.

“My coach, Bud, is also going, as are (top Great Britain female runners) Hatti Dean and Hannah England, both of whom are part of the same training group as me in Birmingham.

“I think I’m the only Paralympic athlete going to the camp but it should be a great environment for me to learn off the others.”

Once he returns from altitude, Miller will compete at a Paralympic test day, due to be held in the new 80,000-capacity stadium in London in May.

“It will be an 800m race,” he said.

“Initially I wasn’t keen because I will just be back from altitude and I’m told you can often be tired in that period of time, but after talking to Bud and my dad we decided it would be good for me to take part.

“It will give me the chance to experience the Olympic Stadium so hopefully, if I’m selected, I won’t be overawed when it comes to the Games (to be staged between August 29 and September 9).”

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