THIS summer, Stephanie Millward returned from London 2012 as a Paralympic hero with five medals strewn around her neck, but the Corsham swim star says her thirst for success wasn’t quenched.
The 31-year-old claimed four silvers and a bronze at the Games, but admits her aim was to top the podium at least once at the London Aquatics Centre.
Despite having spent the past few months basking in the glory of her exploits in the capital, Millward is still hoping to clinch a gold medal and has already begun focussing on Rio 2016.
“London 2012 was an incredible experience and everybody else has been praising me, but my aim really was the gold, so the Paralympics were actually a little bit of a disappointment for me because I didn’t get what I wanted,” said Millward.
“I suppose, for me, the silvers weren’t quite enough. I’ve got to keep trying to get the golds in Rio.
“Therefore, everything will have been an eight-year run from Beijing (in 2008) and I’ll hopefully get the gold at the end of it.
“I had three days off after the end of the Games and then I’ve been training ever since.
“I’ll probably do a little competition in January or February and then the trials for the World Championships (in Canada in August) are in March. The Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow) are in two years.”
The groundwork for Millward’s London medal march was put in at the Swansea High Performance Centre, which became the Wiltshire star’s base in 2008, but there has been a fresh start for Millward after she relocated to the South West at the end of the summer.
The Games ace, who suffers with multiple sclerosis, is now living in Bath and training at the nearby university with the Aquae Sulis Performance Swimming Club.
“At Swansea, I was in an elite team, where you used to swim with half a lane to yourself or a whole lane on some occasions,” said Millward.
“Training in Bath, I get to train with an age group squad, so there’ll be up to 14 people in a lane. Although it sounds worse, it’s absolutely fantastic because you’ve got to swim hard to keep your place - I think that’ll make me work harder.
“I’ve got a new coach called Martin Mosey. He’s very sweet and very well-tempered but he’s hard on you.
“If you do the session well, he’ll praise you for it but if you don’t do it well, he’ll get angry with you – I think that’s perfect actually.
“This year has got to have been one of the best year’s I’ve ever had. Every year has offered things to praise and things to look down on, positives and negatives and things that make you stronger.
“It was good because the whole London Olympics was incredible and the rest of the year has been great because I’m now living with my fiancé (Adrian McHugh), which I probably should have been doing four years ago.
“I think next year is going to be one of change but I’m hoping for good times and good swims.”
Despite admitting that she won’t be satisfied until she adds a gold medal to her collection, Millward still hopes that her achievements at London 2012 can help inspire others.
And she doesn’t mind taking the praise for her medal-winning either.
She added: “Just imagine if you inspire someone to do something incredible – just imagine if it was because you went and saw them for an hour.
“The last few months have been great and it’s made all that hard work we’ve done worth it.
“I’ve been in the paper just about every week and it’s a dream come true because you didn’t expect it.
“Next year, I want to raise the profile of a lot more charities and I want to save the world.
“Obviously, I’ve got MS and I want to find the cure for that somehow.
“My MS is very good at the moment and I’m living with the man that I love, in a place that I love, doing the job that I love.”
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