2019 Glasgow Diary: Considering Rachel Miller

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BL_28901_2019022832157498.JPGRachel Miller, photo by Getty Images/European Athletics

Stuart Weir is always looking for a unique story. He sure found one in British sprinter, Rachel Miller. Rachel juggles raising a nine year old son and elite sprinting. We think that you will be seeing more of this talented British sprinter.

BL2_8252_2019022832318941.JPGEilidh Doyle, Rachel Miller, photo by Getty Images/European Athletics

Considering Rachel Miller

I confess that I had never heard of Rachel Miller before she made the GB team for the European Indoor Athletics Championships. Look up her records and you will see that ran 12.9 for 100m in 2006 (aged 16). It was then over eight years before she competed again. In 2015 she ran 11.70, 11.46 in 2016 and 11.45 in 2017. Nothing to write home about, so how did she make it to the European Championships 18 months later at the age of 29?

The first thing you need to know about Rachel is that she has a nine-year son, which mainly explains the gap in her career. She adds: "I am a mum and to be honest, that has made me who I am today and brought me to where I am today".

After competing for three seasons she felt she has seen enough progress, in August 2017, to give up her full-time job as a school receptionist to become a full-time athlete and changed coaches to work with Linford Christie. She explains: "I'm training full-time and when I'm not at the track, I am being a mum. It is quite hectic, but it is amazing. I'm not on funding and I have no sponsor. My support network is amazing and I wouldn't have been able to do it without my family".

The obvious question is what took her from being a good club athlete to an international. She cites a combination of things: "Belief, self-belief and confidence. Just seeing the I'm not that far away from world class times gives me the drive and motivation to keep pressing on. I always knew it was going to happen, it was a case of when. Perseverance is key and hard work is key and that has brought me here. Coaching wise, it's a bit more of a disciplined environment and a bit more goal-focused. And when you've got those things in place, it allows you to train hard for something. So, a change of mindset and a change of coach and I think when those two things are mixed together magical things happen and that is what happened to me up to now".

And she wants more magic going forward: "I want to be able to compete on a world class stage and on a massive platform more often. I don't want this to be - because right now I feel like the newbie in the team - I don't want to feel like the newbie any more. I want competing for my country to be second nature for me. It is an absolute honor and then I know that things will fall into place".

In the 2019 British Indoor Championships, Asha Philip won in 7.19 with Miller second in 7.20. Most people thought this was an amazing performance but not Rachel: "I knew I had that in me and that I had so much more so it wasn't a surprise at all. It was a bit heart-breaking when I didn't come first but that is part and parcel of the sport". With a typically down to earth attitude, she added that her aim is always simply to: "to execute. Once you execute your race, I think everything else works, and works in your favour. It's just about remembering what we've been working on in training and then it will go down the right path from there".

To show that her good performance in the Champs was no fluke she took 4th in the Birmingham Grand Prix the following week - fourth place in tough company, behind Elaine Thompson, Asha Philip and Ma-Jo Ta Lou.

She even takes a positive from her inexperience this week: "I feel I've got a bit of an advantage, only because when you come in this late you're unaware of competitors, times and what's going on. I feel I'm coming into this championship on my own, ready to do my own thing".

But just to keep her grounded, her son is not in Glasgow: "He said it's too far to come and he'll watch me on TV".

Editor's note: Rachel Miller made it into the semi finals, where she ran 7.37 and was eliminated.

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