Athletics: Bronze medal dream come true for Miller

Bronze medallist Andrea Miller (left), of New Zealand, congratulates winner Sally Pearson, of...
Bronze medallist Andrea Miller (left), of New Zealand, congratulates winner Sally Pearson, of Australia, after the women's 100m hurdle final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi yesterday. Photo from Getty Images.
There is a twist to Andrea Miller's bronze medal in the 100m hurdles.

She first had the dream of competing for New Zealand when watching the 1990 Commonwealth Games in her home town of Auckland in 1990.

That was the Games when her Dunedin-based coach, Brent Ward, coached Grant McNeil to the final of the 110m hurdles.

It has taken 20 years for another Ward-trained hurdler to stand on the podium at a major international event.

Miller claimed the bronze medal in the 100m hurdles in 13.25sec behind Australian training partner Sally Pearson (Australia), who won in 12.67sec, and Canadian Angela Whyte (Canada) in 12.98sec.

Miller told a press conference in Delhi she had been thinking about such a moment for the past 20 years.

"I've been dreaming about this since the 1990 Commonwealth Games when I was 7-years-old," she said.

"I even took home a piece of track back then to remind me about what I wanted.

That dream came true tonight."

It was an exciting night for Ward, who watched the race on television at his Dunedin home.

"It was a fantastic run by Andrea," Ward said.

"It shows what a great competitor she is. She enjoys big-time racing."

It was an emotional time for Ward as he reflected back 20 years to the time McNeil competed in Auckland.

"I watched the athletics to the end and did not get much sleep last night," Ward said.

Miller switched her physiotherapy course to Dunedin from Auckland to train with Ward and spent three years in the city until she graduated.

Miller, who holds the New Zealand sprint hurdles record in all grades, had a serious back operation before coming to Dunedin and Ward has had to modify her training because of the problem.

It flared up again last year when she won a bronze medal in her specialist event at the World University Games in Belgrade.

It has restricted her racing over the past 12 months and she only had two lead-up races in Cairns last month before the Commonwealth Games.

"We had to be careful with the workload," Ward said. "But Andrea is experienced and was able to block everything else out as she prepared for the race."

Miller was confident before the race, but was also aware of the problems with her back.

"You never take anything for granted in hurdles because anything can happen when you are jumping barriers," she said.

"I knew I needed a clean start and I would come home strong. I was a bit slow to get going, so I'm absolutely rapt with the way I came home. My finish is my strength so I showed that tonight."

Miller and Pearson are great mates and have trained together on the Gold Coast for the past six months.

Miller, who works part-time as a physiotherapist, gave Pearson credit for helping her win the bronze medal.

"She's been amazing. Sally was a shoo-in to win, so she helped me. She warmed up with me and made sure I was OK. I still can't believe it," Miller told the press conference.

Ward purposely did not discuss future goals when he spoke to Miller in Delhi yesterday.

"We will talk about the future after she has had a good sleep," Ward said.

The key event next year is the world athletics championships in Daegu, South Korea, and then the London Olympics in 2012.

Ward said the New Zealand qualifying standard for the Delhi Games for the 100m hurdles was 13.15sec compared with the Australian standard of 13.25sec.

The qualifying standard for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne was 13.30sec.

It was 13.10sec for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.


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