Northumberland Paralympic star Stephen Miller has added to his medal haul – overcoming a bad back to take part.
The 36-year-old, from Cramlington, claimed bronze in the F32 club today (Tuesday) in the Paralympics in Rio.
Battling temperatures which peaked at 37C, Stephen took the medal after throwing a season’s best of 31.58m.
Ten competitors had made the final, but four failed to show for the start of proceedings at 2pm GMT – 10am local time.
Throwing fourth, Stephen threw 31.58, 31.17 and 31.98 to put him third early on.
World record holder Maciej Sochal, of Poland, improved in the second round of three throws to claim top spot.
Stephen’s second round of three throws included two faults and a measurement of 30.70m, leaving Stephen facing an anxious wait while the last two competitors threw.
Greece’s Dimitrios Zizidis failed to trouble Stephen but Tunisia’s Abdennacer Feidi got close with a fifth throw of 30.87m but failed to improve on his last throw.
Speaking to Channel 4 after the competition, Stephen said: “I’m so emotional.
“I know on paper it looked like I got an easy medal because some athletes didn’t make the start but I had to work really hard for this.
“To throw a season’s best after the week I’ve had where I didn’t know if I could throw as a few days ago I had a really bad back, is great.
“I had to work really hard in the gym who have been really great.
“I managed to pull one out of the bag and it’s really good feeling to be back on the podium.”
He added: “I would never have pulled out of the competition. But four or five days ago I didn’t feel great and couldn’t stand up straight.
“I never give up and what a fantastic feeling it is, and it’s all down to the people who helped me back home, my physio, sponsors and National Lottery.
“I also couldn’t do it without my coach and my mother who is here. She still keeps believing in me.
“It’s an even sweeter moment to get a medal as this could be my last Games. I get to go out on the podium which is brilliant.”
Fellow Team GB competitors were quick to praise Stephen and his achievements at the Paralympics.
Gold medal winning shot putter Aled Davies, watching from Channel 4’s studio, said: “I’m so happy for him.
“There is one guy who I wanted to see get a medal, and it was him. No one works harder than him. He deserves that.
He added: “Stephen has his own aura. He is such a legend, and have so much admiration and respect for him. He’s been there and done it.
“He will be absolutely delighted with bronze. This could well be the last time we see him compete.”
Stephen, who was born with cerebral palsy, won Paralympic gold at Atlanta in 1996 – becoming Great Britain’s youngest ever track and field champion at 16.
He repeated the feat at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 followed by a silver in Beijing eight years ago.
His performance at London 2012, where he was captain of the men’s athletics squad, was hampered by a hip injury and he has since had a hip replacement.