Making a difference

The Corsham 10K and 2K races in 2018 raised £3500.00 for local charities. A big thank you to all the runners and sponsors for making a difference to the local community.

The race committee decided to donate £500.00 from the money raised to Stephanie Millward MBE. The donation will support Stephanie’s bid to swim in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

In just under two years’ time, I intend to compete for Team GB at my 4th Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 – and I am expecting to add to my tally of 10 Paralympic medals (5 x London 2012 and 5 x Rio 2016, including 2 Golds) – it will be my last and I anticipate retiring from competitive swimming in Japan.

 The euphoria of being awarded an MBE in 2017, having Corsham’s pool named after me and being given the ‘Freedom of Corsham’ were countered by the news that, because of my medical classification (S9) & age (35), British Swimming no longer considered me a “medal contender” for Tokyo 2020 and cut my £1,000pm National Lottery Award, after returning from Rio 2016.

 For the last 18 months, through a combination of giving swimming classes, individual coaching and long 8-hour shifts at Budgens, Box – earning the minimum wage – I have been a self-funded athlete and remained ‘swimming fit’.  This said, with 2-years before Tokyo 2020, I need support – to reduce the work hours / shifts, thereby dramatically increasing my energy levels and maximizing pool, gym and recovery time.

Although there are no specific details, British Swimming has confirmed their British Trials will take place in Glasgow, at the end of April (25 – 28 April 2019) and I anticipate this to be the Selection Race for the World Championships in Malaysia in July 2019.  Historically, the Selection Policy is announced in early in the New Year, but all expect automatic qualification places will be available for the Winner & Runner-up in the ‘S9’ 400m Freestyle.  As I am no longer a funded athlete, nor in the British Swimming funded programme, I will be responsible for all associated costs with the British Trials – these include Entry Fees, getting to Glasgow, transit and city travel, accommodation, use of any services (physio, massage, etc. whilst away from Bath) and, potentially and ideally, taking my coach to the event too. This is a one-off event, which I must compete in.  If I gain selection for the 2019 World Championships, the squad will be paid for by British Swimming – and the ‘worlds’ will be a qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.

 For those that don’t know me, or my story, I was British Champion at 100m Backstroke, aged just 15.  By 17 and just before the Sydney Olympic Games, I was diagnosed with MS – that was just over 20 years ago.  The journey to become a double Paralympic Champion, alone with 8 Silver and Bronze Paralympic Medals, along with 700 other swimming medals, including multiple World Champion ones, has not been an easy road, but that is a story for another time.

 The incredible donation of £500 from the Corsham Running Club means so much.  The money will be put toward the British Trials in Glasgow – and I promise all members of Corsham Running Club that whilst you are all running your 10k, just after Easter, I will be north of the border swimming as fast as I possibly can and attempting to qualify for the World Championships.  In addition to helping towards this event, knowing that the I am being so wonderfully supported by my local running club and my community means so much. I am so grateful and so touched.  This gesture will make a huge difference and I won’t ever forget this kindness.

 You have made me feel very proud! Thank you.

Stephanie Millward, MBE.

Paralympic Games, Rio 2016
20160913 Copyright onEdition 2016© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition Swimmer Stephanie Millward, 100m Backstroke S8 – Women, from Corsham, Wiltshire, wins a gold medal for ParalympicsGB at the Rio Paralympic Games 2016.