Sam Miller grew up in Penwortham and as a child he attended Whitefield primary school before moving onto Hutton Grammar. He discovered at an early age that he had a passion for sport and would always do well on sports day
As with most boys, he also loved football and at the age of 11 in 2005, alongside football, he took up athletics. Over the years he was lucky enough to play for various football academies including Preston and Blackburn before joining Blackpool FC’s youth team whilst also being a member of Preston Harriers.
Between 2005 and 2010, he participated in pretty much every running and jumping event possible in athletics and won a few county championships.
After being released from Blackpool FC for being too small though, Sam’s love of playing football began to diminish but his growth spurts did not, as he’s now 6 foot 1!
In 2010, he decided to forget football and concentrate solely on athletics choosing sprinting and long jump as his main events. His perseverance paid off later that year when he became northern champion, was selected to represent Lancashire at the English schools’ championships and grabbed a bronze medal at the UK school games all in the long jump. He thought he had finally found his calling in athletics and had set his heart on building on his long jumping success. However, he began to suffer problems with his feet due to the stress of constantly jumping and throughout 2011/12 his seasons were cut short after he was plagued with foot injuries.
In 2013 he decided, rather than give up the sport completely, he would focus his attention on sprinting as this was something he could do that was pain free. “Before I knew it, at aged just 19 I found myself at the British Championships in Birmingham, lining up against some of the fastest men in Europe live on the BBC, including Dwaine Chambers, whose book I had just been reading! I was racing against professional athletes,” said Sam.
“My first year, focusing on sprinting, I ran under 11 secs for the first time. That season just got better and better and I ended up finishing with a best time of 10.6 seconds! I now knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Sam always had in the back of his mind that he wanted to go to Loughborough University as it had a good reputation for sports.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get the grades he wanted at A Level first time round and had to re-sit them. But in 2014, his dream came true and he finally got into Loughborough. “I thrived at sport while I was there. I moved to a new coach called Leon Baptiste, a former Commonwealth Games 200m champion, who I still have today and started to make great progress in my first season with him.”
However, training and participating in competitions, alongside studying was beginning to take its toll. “I initially wanted to go to Uni for the sports rather than the degree and I found it hard to balance both. It’s a really big commitment to step up to five days a week training and I wasn’t really enjoying the degree side,” he said. That being said, he graduated with a 2:2 in Human Biology in 2016.
With his studies behind him, he decided to stay in Loughborough so he could continue with his sprinting and train at the university. He got himself a job working 8-4 Monday to Friday for the Ministry of Justice assisting people with their court cases to pay for his training and kit. “I don’t get any sponsorship or funding,” says Sam, “so I work and pay for everything myself.” Like being back at university, it’s hard to work all day and then train at your best several days a week but fortunately Sam has a very supportive family and group of friends who help him get through it.
In 2017 Sam progressed from running 100m to 200m after a conversation with his grandad and after just five races in the event was called up to represent Great Britain at the European team Championships in Lille. “It took me 12 years to achieve my dream but if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen,” said Sam. He finished fifth in the European competition and this remains his greatest achievement to date.
Unfortunately running around the bends in the 200m for the first season was a shock to the system and Sam ended up with fractures in both of his feet. “I tried desperately to have a season despite having two broken feet,” said Sam. “I still managed to run 10.54 seconds for the 100m despite the injuries but eventually the pain was too much and it was time to get it sorted out.”
Sam spent six weeks of summer 2018 on crutches with his right foot wrapped in a cast which he stated was really bizarre and mentally challenging as he wasn’t able to take part in the things he loved. The cast came off in August and within just five months Sam was back better than ever and got called up to the England team in January to run the 60m in Slovakia. A truly remarkable turnaround!
Sam feels that he is now able to run to his full potential and found that running is surprisingly much easier when you have two fully functional feet. He has started his outdoor season with his two fastest opening times ever over the 100m and 200m and is looking forward to his first ever 100 per cent pain-free season. “I have my sights firmly set on the European Team Championships in August and after that, the Olympics next year in Tokyo. Despite all the setbacks, I have never once thought of quitting.”
Sam is now looking for a sponsor who can help him fulfil his potential by allowing him to reduce the time he spends working and focus more on training and racing.
Anyone interested can contact Sam on: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his journey on Instagram @SJMLR