The US-based hammer thrower continues to impress and says the thought of this summer’s Commonwealth Games powered his winter training

Born in Cumbria in the north-west of England and currently studying at Oklahoma State University, Nick Miller is a rising star of the hammer scene.

After turning 21 last month he went top of the UK rankings for 2014 with a 74.37m PB before adding a centimetre to that best six days later and the talented thrower believes he can improve further still in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Currently coached by John Baumann – who the youngster describes as “an animal” – Miller has worked his way to No.10 on the UK all-time senior rankings with his best of 74.38m and he took some time out from the throwing circle recently to tell AW more about his rise to current UK No.1.

How did you first get involved in athletics and the hammer?

I started through an old school P.E teacher call Jack Harper Tarr. He taught the basics and at the country school competition I saw Sam Coe throwing and was amazed. From that day I just wanted to be good. Being in Cumbria doesn’t get you the best support or facilities but I quite like that – keep it basic and you do it for the right reasons.

I moved to a coach called John Little who took me basically to where I was before I left for university (Oklahoma State), but I also liked to study the event using the internet and had a lot of my own ideas on how I wanted to throw.

You competed in Scotland a few times when you were younger, so you must have come into contact with the late hammer coaching legend Alan Bertram?

Yes I kept in contact with Alan from the first time I met him. Even when I was at Oklahoma State (OSU) we would write to each other discussing training and ideas. He was a great guy who I have a lot of respect for. He had a talent not just for coaching but for making everyone feel unique and he always had time to help.

As well as doing other throwing events, you also did karate. Were you any good?!

Karate was my main interest for many years. I am not a team sport person so I like anything individual. I was pretty good at the fighting but not the katas but when I was 16 I won the GB open under-18 competition. Growing up I did most sport. I played football and rugby mostly but I found counting on other people frustrating and decided to move to sports where I was responsible for the outcome.

“I don’t see much point in going to a competition and aiming to finish anything but first, it’s not in my nature”

What are your other interests outside of athletics?

My biggest interest is probably motorbikes. I have a small collection going now and nothing beats spending a Sunday riding around the lakes and Heartside. I also enjoy fly fishing and over the summer I spend my time throwing and fishing.

What are you studying at OSU?

I’m studying a lot of criminalistics classes and a few nutrition classes. I basically built my own degree that would enable me to study classes I found interesting. After college I want to either coach or join the police, so it is sufficient for me to follow my career choice. Most of the fall I go out of my way to do extra, there are some rules in place to protect athletes that limit the amount of training coaches can require of you at certain times of the year, but it is okay to spend your personal time doing extra if you so desire. I find training enjoyable so I never feel like it is a burden.

How much does the Commonwealth Games mean to you? English throwers have a great record in the event, with men’s and women’s golds being won by English throwers the last time the event was home soil in Manchester 2002, for example.

I remember thinking during the last Commonwealth Games ‘I want to be there’ and it has powered my training this winter. It has been my main goal this season to work for. It’s exciting to think I will be following the footsteps of throwers who I have looked up to as I have been developing. As for the competition, I don’t see much point in going to a competition and aiming to finish anything but first, it’s not in my nature.

What would you say are your strengths and your weaknesses?

My strength is probably my strength – it comes very natural to me especially pulling movements. This year I deadlifted 377kg and hang cleaned 200kg.

My weakness is still not being able to put my strength into my throw. I know I need more throwing reps in the bank for this to happen which will come over the next few years. To me throwing is the only way to throw far, I have time for this to happen, and this year it was all I focused on. Technique has a model but is also very unique, I’m working on finding out my own.

Last, but by no means least – are you getting an American accent yet?!

Unfortunately I am slightly. After a while you just learn to use their words like they do, it’s just easier. Especially things like ordering water at a restaurant instead of ‘wata’.

» You can find further performance stats on Nick Miller on Power of 10 here

» Support young athletics via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk