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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Q&A: Stephen Miller
Britain's Stephen Miller in action in the club
Athlete Stephen Miller claimed his third successive gold medal in the club event in Athens.

The 24-year-old set a new world record of 33.53m to add to his World and European titles in the event.

The club, which is the Paralympics equivalent to the hammer, is a wooden object with a metal base that weighs just under half a kilogram and is thrown from a discus circle.

As well as being a keen athlete, Miller is also a big Newcastle United fan and is involved with the club's disabled supporters association.

Thanks for all your questions - a selection appear below.

Steve Rackett, London

How many hours a week do you train? How much of this is with weights, and how much of it is 'throwing'? And do you have a special diet?

The hours I train per week varies as to what stage or phase of my training programme I am in. We plan for big competitions over a year in advance and my training is broken into, at the most, six week blocks. So during a high workload period I can be training as much as 18 hours a week and during a quality-focused period it can be less than 10 hours a week.

That might not seem a lot, but with the high intensity of training that throwing involves, it is a lot and to train every day would lead to exhaustion and injury. During the winter my training is mostly made of lifting weights, medicine ball work and circuits, in the spring/summer it moves to being more technical and powerful, with more specific weights exercises and quality throwing sessions.

As for my diet, I just eat things that are good for you and are easy to digest, basically food that is high in carbohydrate and low in fat. I don't have a specific diet.

Tim Carpenter, Cramlington

We've watched the able-bodied competitors break world records and reap massive financial rewards for their efforts - what financial rewards are available to Paralympic competitors at the top of their sport like yourself?

Well, basically the only income I receive for my sporting achievements is the funding from UK Sport and the Lottery, this funding is essential for me and I couldn't train the way I do without it. However, I do think in England we could learn from the Scottish and Welsh systems, as their funding encourages development and isn't performance led, nothing like that exists in England.

It's very difficult for me and my fellow Paralympians to get personal sponsorship, which is a shame when you see most able-bodied athletes with well paid deals from top sports manufacturers. I suppose the only explanation is that Paralympians don't get the same media exposure that able-bodied Olympians do, with the exception of Tanni. Hopefully disabled sport will start to gain the credibility it deserves and much needed financial backing will come into it.

John Halshaw, Birmingham

To win three golds in a row makes you a legend. How do you keep determined to train in the off-season? How can you wake up early to train. Also, what do you think about Craig Bellamy's future at Newcastle?

It's simple really, I love training. I think even if I wasn't a professional athlete I would still go to the gym and keep fit. I'm naturally competitive and so even training becomes a competition with myself to do better each time. I try my best not to train early in the morning as I'm not a morning person, however I had to be up at 5am for my competition in Athens so I can do it when required.

I am a big fan of Craig Bellamy, I think he has a fantastic attitude and just wants to succeed and hates losing, I'd be gutted if he was sold or left the club.

John, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Do you think the success Great Britain has achieved in the Paralympics has changed people's attitudes for the better towards disabled sport, and disabled people in general?

I would like to think so. I know for sure that the interest in the Paralympics in Athens has been greater than ever before. Lots of people have seen me winning on TV or heard about it online and on the radio. The BBC did a great job of covering the games and I hope the coverage of other disabled sporting events in the future is increased as well. I still think a lot of people class disabled sport as easy and second class but that is probably because they've never watched live events. The attitude is changing but there's still a long way to go.

Daniel Palmer, Aylesbury

Who supported you in the preparation for the Athens games in terms of funding and training to achieve elite status?

UK Sport, through the Lottery, support my year-round training and competitions. The Paralympic holding camp was in Cyprus and organised by the British Paralympic Association. It was definitely the best holding camp I've been to, mainly because I was able to have my own personal assistance and my personal coach was there too. It's the first time they've been able to come to a holding camp as it's normally team staff only, although I did have to fund the travel expenses myself. My preparation in Cyprus was perfect and I just had to carry that through to the competition, we knew it would be difficult in the Paralympic Village due to low staffing in the athletics team but I got through it.

Darren Evans, Aylesbury, UK

If you had to choose between another gold medal and Newcastle United winning the Premiership, which would it be and why?

Gold - no contest!! Supporting Newcastle is my main pastime, but my success always comes first. Although it would be good if they could match my achievements and do three in a row!

Rebecca, Manchester

What's it like being an elite sportsman in a marginalised event? Do you feel frustrated at the amount of time being given to higher-profile sports like wheelchair basketball and racing events?

Yes we throwers often get frustrated at our lack of coverage and the attention the track gets, but there's not much you can do apart from try to build interest in throwing events and perform well. I think you have to watch a throwing event all the way through to get into it, sadly the TV coverage never lets you do that and often just shows one or two throws which doesn't tell the story of the competition.

Fortunately we throwers have a good sense of humour and can laugh it off by taking the mickey out of the trackies. The wheelchair basketball does get a lot of coverage but that is because it is very TV friendly and exciting to watch.

Patricia, Newcastle

Did you enjoy the joint Olympic and Paralympic parade in London?

The parade was great, I've never done anything like that before so it was a new experience and I loved it. The crowds were great and really appreciated what everybody had achieved. Again though, it was disappointing that the Paralympians were overshadowed by the Olympians, who with all due respect, didn't achieve as much. I just wish the media would take a chance and interview Paralympic gold medallists instead of Olympic silver and bronze medallists.

Angie Stewart, Bedale, North Yorkshire

Apart from the three gold medals, what would you say is your greatest achievement and what future ambitions do you have?

Tough question. Obviously the Paralympics is the pinnacle of my sport and it gets harder to win every time, so my latest gold medal would be my greatest achievement to date. But apart from my gold medals, it would have to be the bronze medal I won in the discus in Sydney. I had no right to win it but I threw well on the day.

Aside from sport, my greatest achievement is getting a 2:1 in business information systems from Northumbria University. My ambition is pretty boring, to remain undefeated in the club for as long as possible and to keep improving.

Chris, Southend

What did winning the third gold mean to you and also how did it feel to set a world record?

For 12 months my life was orientated around winning gold in Athens, it meant everything to me. I never had any other thought in my mind apart from winning. To break my world record was a great bonus but that was not my aim, I know I have the potential to throw much further but it was winning the competition that mattered most.

I was spaced out for a couple of weeks after, it's just hard to believe you've achieved your dream.

Diane Green, Newcastle

You are known for being an inspirational person yourself but who really inspires you?

I'm inspired by lots of things and lots of people. The main thing that sticks out in my mind as a child was watching Linford Christie win the 100m gold in Barcelona, it really showed me the spirit and competitiveness of the Olympics, and I fancied a go.

My first coach, Norman Burns, inspired me. He was a Paralympian and a true sportsman, sadly Norman died last year but I'm trying to keep his spirit going. My mam is currently coaching me with the input of Ray Knight and she is very inspirational to me.

I am also very inspired by the music of Joy Division, The Stone Roses and The Smiths, to name a few.

Sarah, Leicester

What do you think of the idea to hold the Olympics and the Paralympics at the same time? What would it mean to your events?

I'm not a great supporter of that idea to be honest. I think it would result in even more inequality as lots of disability events would be cut (something that is already happening) and the able-bodied competitions would overshadow disabled events.

The best way forward is to raise the profile of the Paralympics and try to make it as big as the Olympics, after all it is still the best athletes in the world competing against each other which doesn't happen very often. I also believe there should be a disability event after every major able-bodied games, such as the World, European and Commonwealth Games.

Hannah West, Cambridge

How many more Paralympics do you reckon you will do? Will you move on to another sport or stay with the club?

At 24 I'm very young for a thrower, but I never like to look more than a year into the future. So my main aim is to perform well at the major championships next year. But off the record, I think I have a realistic shot at seven Paralympics, given that I am lucky with my health, and you never know how your life will pan out, that's the beauty of living I suppose.

The club is my main event but I'm also a good discus thrower and was bitterly disappointed not to be selected for it in Athens, so I hope to be in the club and discus in Beijing. And your brother can't retire before me.

Anna, London

What was it like to be presented to the Newcastle crowd at half-time in the game against Manchester City? Was that more nerve-wracking than competing in Athens?

I was presented to the crowd after Sydney with Jonathan Edwards and Hazel Robson, but this time I was on my own and it was even better, nearly as good as winning in Athens. I got a really good reception and decided to milk it as I waved to every stand, they just kept applauding. I made a few tyre marks on the pitch, but it must of helped the team as they won 4-3.

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