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miller wins third consecutive european title in holland

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Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller - third European title

25 June 2012

Stephen Miller (coach: Ros Miller) won his third successive European title in the F32 club throw at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal, Holland (24-28 June) today, giving him a major confidence boost going into his fifth Paralympic Games this summer.

Throwing into a strong headwind between heavy rain showers, the three-time Paralympic gold medallist and European Record holder had to work hard to get close to his season’s best.

“I thought I threw pretty well,” said the Gateshead athlete who recorded a winning distance of 29.10m. “I wanted to break my European Record (34.93m) and I thought I had that kind of throw in me, but I’m sure we all lost a couple of metres in the conditions. You’re in a competition to win it and it was the same for all of us.

“I’m happy with a win and to become a three-time European Champion. I think that will be my last competition before London so it’s back to the gym for some hard work.”

Miller’s victory took the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland gold medal tally to four, while there were bronze medals on day two from Olivia Breen (Leroy Elliot) in the T38 200m, Sally Brown (Philip Tweedie) in the T46 200m and Sophia Warner (Steve King) in the T35 200m, taking the overall medal total to ten.

Breen - who was making her Aviva GB & NI debut - recorded a significant new lifetime best (wind-assisted) of 29.07 (+3.8m/s) in a race won by top-ranked Russian Margarita Goncharova (28.39).

“I’m so thrilled, it felt so good,” said the 15-year-old City of Portsmouth athlete. “We’ve been working on my start and also on my bend and I’m really pleased, I think the bend was the best bit of my race today, but I also managed to stay really focused into the home straight.

“I’m much more confident now because I know what I need to do, and I know I can do it, so I’m looking forward to my 100m. I’m just thrilled, it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.”

Brown, who is only a year older than her team mate, is already a World Championships bronze medallist over 200m but was making her return to major competitive action after almost 12 months out with injury. She clocked 27.42 (+2.7m/s) behind winner Nikol Rodomakina (25.88) and was content just to be back on the track and healthy.

In the penultimate race of the day, Warner, who was just outside her PB with 35.91 (+0.8m/s), took confidence from the way she ran the latter stages of her race in particular: “I think that’s the strongest I’ve ever felt into the final 100m,” she said; “it’s indicative of the hard work I’ve been doing and it felt really nice not to crumble into the finish.”

The race was won by impressive Italian Oxana Corso in a new European Record of 33.72.

In the only qualifying round of the day, World Championships silver medallist Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) cruised into the final of the T36 800m in 2:09.10, but his World Record of 2:08.02 was smashed by Russian Evgenii Shvetcov - day one’s T36 100m champion - in 2:06.55 after a fast final 200m.

Full results can be found on the live event site

Videos featuring Aviva GB & NI athletes can be found on Paralympic Sport TV courtesy of the IPC.

Photo: © Marcus Hartmann: www.photo-harmann.de