A RAGING war across the middle east in the early 1990s might not be viewed by many as a blessing in disguise.

But for Box-based swimmer Steph Millward, moving from Saudi Arabia as a determined 10-year-old due to the outbreak of the Gulf War opened up a whole new world – both in and outside of the pool.

Before moving to Britain, swimming was simply a way to stay cool in the scorching desert heat – that didn’t prevent her from winning gold in the 100m backstroke at the Junior Olympics in Rhiyadd as an eight-year-old mind.

Determined to advance on her Saudi success, Millward joined Corsham Amateur Swimming club when moving to England with her family. Her talent was quickly scouted, and by the age of 14 she was training flat out at Bath University.

With a spot at the Sydney Olympics in the bag, the 37-year-old’s world was turned upside down – walking issues, blindness and paralysis ended her road – or so she thought.

Fast forward 19 years and – two Paralympic gold medals and four world titles later – Millward is ready to represent Team GB once again at the World Para Swimming Championships in September.

Even getting to this stage provided Millward with the now familiar obstacles.

The devastating earthquake that shattered Mexico City delayed the competition’s 2017 staging, before this year’s event was moved from Kuching, Malaysia, to London – allowing Israeli athletes to compete.

Casting all of the out-of-pool drama to one side, Wiltshire talent Millward still possesses the same enthusiasm for her sport as she did as a toddler.

She said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be back in the GB squad.

“I love being part of the Great Britain team, it makes me feel so incredibly proud.

“And when I walk around the team not only am I inspired but they are too – the young athletes want to reach the Olympics and be the best athletes that they possibly can be.

“You get given two choices – you can sit back and let life take a hold of you.

“Or you can stand up and fight back. I want to be the best, so I had to fight back.

“Now I’m somewhere where I want to be – I want to be swimming, inspiring people and living the life that I am living now.”

Passing on her knowledge to the next generation of swimmers is also a key part of Millward’s vision for the future.

She combines her eight training sessions each week with coaching youngsters of all abilities on Sundays, while educating schools about the benefits of swimming.

“You never know who you are going to impact, you have to help everybody and attempt to inspire everyone,” added Millward.

“I was in Essex on Monday teaching at a school there – so I’m trying to reach out as far as possible.”