BIG INTERVIEW: Sam's the man for GB
Craig Salmon talks to Great Britain's bright young sprinting prospect Sam Miller, who hails from Penwortham, near Preston
You’re witnessing first hand how little time I have to myself’, Sam Miller reveals to me with a slight hint of exasperation.
It seems preposterous to think that the Penwortham lad – one of Great Britain’s most promising young sprinters – spends hours on end during the week sitting behind a desk.
Morning track work, afternoon gym sessions and daily rub-downs all have to play second fiddle to the 23-year-old’s day job as a contact centre agent for the Ministry of Justice.
It is far from ideal for the former Hutton Grammar School pupil, who last week received a call-up to the GB squad for the European Team Championships, in Lille, France.
Primarily a 100m specialist, Miller was selected for the 200m and did himself proud with a personal best time and a fifth-place finish in the final.
It was certainly not too shabby for someone who is only able to train after he has clocked off from his office job.
“I work for the ministry of justice as a contact centre agent,” said Miller. “I assist people who are making claims for money.
“ I spend the majority of my day sitting down on the phone talking to solicitors.
“I have to work in order to pay the bills and cover the costs associated with high level sport such as physio, massage, travel and accommodation.
“Sitting down for long periods isn’t beneficial to my performance as an athlete.
“It leads to tired and tight muscles.
“But sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to succeed.
“A typical day for me involves getting up at 7am and leaving for work at 8am.
“I then work 8-30am to 3-30pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday followed by training from 4pm to 7pm.
“By the time I have got home and cooked my tea, the clock is ticking around to 8pm. Thursday is my day off from training so I work until 5pm.
“I also train on Saturday for three or four hours starting from 9am.
“If I didn’t have to work or if I could afford to reduce my hours I believe my performance would improve greatly.
“The biggest difficulty is training hard in the evenings and then having to get up at 7am every day.
“This is currently the only way I can afford to train and compete at the level I do though as I have never been given any form of outside funding or sponsorship.
“Most of the best athletes in the country receive this so don’t have to work and can focus their full attention on training and recovery.”
A former member of Preston Harriers, Miller burst onto the athletics scene in 2013 when he lined up alongside Dwain Chambers and James Desaolu as a teenager in the 100m at the British Championships.
Although he narrowly missed out on a place in the final back then, he served notice of his potential by recording a personal best time of 10.6 seconds.
Injuries have hindered his progress slightly at times since but he has still managed to shave three-hundreds of a second off his PB.
His potential has certainly caught the attention of the national selectors, with it all culminating in last weekend’s call-up.
He admits his selection came as a surprise, even more so that he was chosen to compete in the 200m.
“It has taken me 12 years to achieve my dream of representing Great Britain,” revealed Miller, who attended Whitefield Primary School, in Penwortham.
“There have been many setbacks along the way such as injuries but I never once gave up hope that I could reach this level in my sport.
“To finally get the call up was extremely overwhelming.
“Especially considering the fact that just over two months ago, I had never even run the 200m.
“In terms of how the race went it’s difficult to say as I am still so new to the event and have yet to find my ideal race model.
“I feel as though I stuck to my game plan though and ran well considering I was in arguably the worst lane.”
Miller – who attended renowned sports university Loughborough to study human biology – revealed representing his country was everything he dreamed it would be.
“From the moment I first put on the GB kit on to travelling down to St Pancras Station to the moment I took it off on Monday I had a smile on my face.
“I loved every minute of the experience and I am extremely grateful to British athletics for giving me this opportunity that I have worked so hard for.
“ It exceeded all of my expectations. As an outsider you just see the athletes perform on the track and don’t get to see what goes on behind the scenes.
“The medical team work tirelessly to ensure that everyone is in peak shape and the other members of staff conduct themselves in an extremely professional manor.
“Every athlete is treated equally regardless of prior achievements and given the same opportunity to succeed at the event.
“As this was a team event there was a real sense of unity among the camp allowing us to feed off each other’s success and positivity.
“I have never had a problem with motivation but this event has certainly kept me hungry to achieve the same level of success and make another GB team.
“The immense feeling of pride you get from representing your country is extremely addictive.”
In what was a largely development GB squad for the European Team Championships, Miller was determined not to be too overawed by the occasion.
With not too much pressure on his shoulders, he was able to exceed expectation levels by reaching the final.
He said: “I don’t get particularly nervous before races anyway but the beauty of this competition was that there was no pressure or expectation on myself.
“On paper I wasn’t even expected to make the final which allowed me to remain relaxed throughout and enjoy the occasion.
“As a competitor though I have never had a mindset where I am happy to just be a part of the event.
“I wanted to use this relaxed mentality to my advantage and run freely like I did all those years ago when I used to run at the school sports day.”
Having worn the GB vest, Miller admitted he is thirsty for more.
His ultimate ambition is to compete at an Olympic Games and has eyes on Tokyo in three years time.
“The main goal for any athlete is to make an Olympic team,” he said.
“ I don’t think that will ever change for me.
“But I think I am going to have to re-evaluate a lot of my goals though as they have mostly been shattered following this unexpected international call up.
“At the start of this season, my goal was to run a pb in the 100m and run under 21 seconds in the 200m.
“Both of these I have already accomplished. I always dreamt of racing for Great Britain and believed I could do it but didn’t expect it to happen so soon after switching to the 200m.”