The Fiji TimesMiller the thriller


He could also be 64, however former Olympian and famend Fijian decathlete Albert Miller can nonetheless vividly bear in mind the bits and items of his childhood that helped form him to the individual he’s immediately.

Miller stated rising up on their household copra farm within the bushes of Nadivakarua Property, Bua, overlooking the Savusavu Harbour laid a strong basis for his life.

The present decathlon report holder stated he believed the “typical’ village life-style ready him mentally and bodily for the challenges and trials that led him to ascertain his title in Fiji’s athletics and sports activities historical past books.

“As quickly as the varsity holidays began, all 5 of my siblings and I might be on the farm amassing coconuts for my father,” the daddy of three shared.

“That was the life we knew. From amassing firewood to going fishing, these are a few of the expertise that I’m grateful to have lived by means of as a result of it taught me lots.”

From waking up on the first light to take care of their household vegetable farm to creating their approach to college alongside bushy tracks, Miller stated he at all times discovered village life enjoyable as a younger youngster.

“In these days, there have been no roads the place we used to dwell, so we’d be strolling on horse tracks in an effort to get to highschool. Though it was a tough life, it was a enjoyable and thrilling one.”

A few of his finest experiences from his childhood had been transporting copra from their farm to Savusavu by way of a fibreglass boat as there have been no roads again then.

“We didn’t have a ship, so we’d simply rent a relative’s boat to get to Savusavu. I’m actually blessed to have lived that life-style as a result of day by day was enjoyable for us again then.”

In response to tales shared by his dad and mom, their forefathers got here from Bathtub in England and settled in Levuka, which was a thriving commerce middle on the time.

“In response to what my dad and mom instructed me, our forefathers got here from England and settled in Levuka earlier than a few of them moved to Savusavu. The property the place we’ve got our copra farm was purchased by my father within the Nineteen Fifties.”

Miller bought his first style of aggressive athletics throughout his years at Levuka Public College from 1973 to 1976 the place he was the junior, intermediate, senior and open grade champion within the excessive bounce occasion.

“I attended completely different colleges by means of my highschool days as a result of two of my sisters had been lecturers. So wherever they had been posted, I might dwell with them and attend that college.”

Throughout that interval, Miller crossed paths with Robert Luther – a former United States excessive jumper who was a Peace Corps volunteer. Luther was instructing at Savusavu Secondary College and seen Miller’s excessive bounce expertise.

“Two of my youthful sisters had been education there, in order that’s how we met and he discovered that I additionally did excessive bounce.”

Luther would prepare Miller in the course of the holidays in preparation for varsity competitions earlier than providing him a personal scholarship.

“In my final yr in school, he requested me if I wished to highschool within the US and take up athletics there. So after a number of months earlier than going to the US, I briefly labored on a ship right here in Savusavu to earn some cash earlier than I left Fiji.”

Miller left for the US in 1979 and missed the South Pacific Video games in Suva after being chosen into the nationwide squad for the excessive bounce occasion. “I left Fiji that yr to attend faculty in Sacramento, lacking out on the SPG that was purported to be my first name to nationwide responsibility.”

He attended Sacramento Metropolis School for 2 years earlier than shifting as much as California State College of Sacramento for an additional three years. Miller continued with the excessive bounce, however discovered the competitors to be fairly overwhelming and determined to alter his occasion.

“Athletes there would begin leaping at two meters whereas my finest was round 1.90 meters on the time.” After talking along with his faculty coach, they determined he would check out the decathlon.

“So I needed to be taught all these different occasions that had been concerned within the decathlon like shot put, 1500 meters, excessive bounce and 400 meters. Other than all these occasions, the hardest I needed to be taught was the pole vault.”

In his first state convention competitors, he broke the Fiji report for the decathlon occasion. This was when he knew that decathlon may very well be one thing he may excel in.

“I continued to get higher through the years in numerous faculty and college meets till I competed for the final time in 1983.”

On the Nationwide School Athletic Affiliation Championship in division two that yr, Miller proved his price when he got here third within the competitors, breaking his earlier report.

“I wished to show to all my coaches and staff mates that although I could have come from a small island within the Pacific, I can compete at that degree. I managed to get into third place. That’s quantity three in the entire US.”

Miller nonetheless holds the report within the decathlon occasion on the California State College of Sacramento to today and believes that 1983 was his peak yr.

“There have been many ups and downs throughout these 5 years, however I take pleasure in taking over challenges. It’s one thing that retains me going.”

That very same yr, Miller returned to Fiji and competed on the SPG in Samoa.

“Sadly, I needed to fund my very own approach again residence as a result of I had no sponsors on the time. I used to be in a position to maintain a ‘kati’ with the assistance of a few of my coaches and was in a position to pay for my flight residence.”

In Samoa, his first time at an SPG, he broke the decathlon report profitable a gold medal and a silver every within the 110m hurdles and 4x400m relay.

“We ran on sand tracks in Samoa and I believe this actually impacted my efficiency however I used to be in a position to obtain my aim of breaking the report.”

He went on to safe a spot within the 1984 Olympic Video games squad to Los Angeles, California, however injured himself throughout coaching.

“I used to be actually wanting ahead to the 1984 Olympics as a result of I knew this was going to be the top of my profession. However I bought injured just some days earlier than my occasion and was unable to complete the occasion.”

Miller stated he was devastated as a result of he had been recording spectacular instances whereas coaching in Fiji and was wanting ahead to profitable a medal.

This was the primary time in his profession that he didn’t full a full decathlon.

He attended the 1986 Commonwealth Video games in Scotland the place he had the honour of assembly the late Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II, one thing he nonetheless remembers to today.

The next yr he once more made the nationwide squad for the SPG in New Caledonia and defended his title as champion within the decathlon occasion and even managed to interrupt his 1983 report. Miller scooped a gold medal within the decathlon occasion and one other medal within the 110m hurdles.

He once more made the lower for the nationwide squad to the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Video games that was first held in Seoul, Korea, and Barcelona in Spain after the 1991 SPG in Papua New Guinea.

“I got here again fairly robust in 1991, breaking my SPG report once more for the third time profitable a gold and bronze medal.”

Earlier than that, Miller returned to the US the place he took up athletics teaching after attaining everlasting residency there.

In late 1993, he returned and labored on the College of the South Pacific in Laucala the place he began off as a Sports activities and Recreation Officer earlier than conducting lectures in Bodily Training.

He spent nearly 20 years at USP. Greater than 10 years later, after his first worldwide match, he confirmed Fiji that he nonetheless had what it takes when he gained a silver medal within the 1994 Mini Video games earlier than he lastly retired after the 1995 SPG in Tahiti.

“I pulled a hamstring earlier than my occasion however I managed to win a silver. I used to be heartbroken as a result of I wished to finish my profession on a excessive. However that’s the lifetime of an athlete, so I simply accepted destiny and continued on.”

After retiring, he progressed into teaching, taking the 1996 nationwide squad to the Olympics in Georgia, US. Since then, he has by no means appeared again and continued in teaching and would usually journey and advocate on the advantages of sports activities to colleges round Fiji. Miller was in a position to safe a Bachelor’s in Bodily Training and a Grasp’s in Social Work whereas he was attending college within the US.

“Once I go to colleges and converse to college students, I inform them I wasn’t a really vibrant scholar, however I managed to get to the highest by means of laborious work and perseverance. I solely handed my English paper, however now I’ve masters and levels.”

He met his spouse, Litiana, in 1999 when he coached her to the SPG in Guam the place she bagged a gold medal.

Litiana, initially from Natua in Seaqaqa, Cakaudrove, clocked a report 11.92 time within the 100 meters occasion in Guam that yr.

Miller has represented Fiji at a number of worldwide tournaments, together with 4 Olympic Video games in a profession that spanned greater than 20 years.

He definitely has come a great distance from being only a typical younger boy dwelling within the bushes of Nadivakarua and has managed to journey across the globe by means of athletics.

As we speak he’s a Growth Officer for Fiji Athletics and works intently with disabled athletes and the Fiji Disabled Society.

“Only a phrase of recommendation to all of the younger folks on the market. All the time be prepared to work laborious and revel in what you do. Focusing in your targets and striving to realize them ought to be your prime precedence.”

Miller has sacrificed lots for the nation by placing his life and work on maintain when chosen to signify the nation.

The nice works, sacrifices and dedication of athletes resembling himself ought to be appreciated and never forgotten as a result of their involvement in sports activities has formed it to what it’s immediately and paved the best way for hundreds of children to pursue their desires.

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