A year in the life of Paralympian Stephen Miller has been documented in a series of photographs which are going on show in Gateshead next week, the day before the gold medallist goes for glory again at the European Championships.
Taken by local photographer Dan Prince, the behind-the-scenes images offer a unique insight into the sporting world of the champion thrower from Cramlington, capturing him in training and relaxing at home.
The 32-year-old athlete, who has cerebral palsy, attended a special unveiling of 100% Stephen Miller at Gateshead College, where he has links as an ambassador of sport, before the exhibition transfers to Gateshead Stadium where it opens officially on Monday.
And Stephen, who is preparing to defend his title at the European Championships in Swansea on Tuesday, was delighted with the results which he hopes will help inspire youngsters.
He said: “It’s not easy to get used to somebody being in your home but I’m quite comfortable getting photographed - and I’m quite vain as well!
“For my wife and my mam it was totally different; they were a bit nervous then got used to it.”
Photographer Dan, from County Durham, initially intended focusing on several Paralympians for the kind of project he likes to do every year as a change from his commercial work.
But before long he realised Stephen could make a project on his own.
His resulting photographs show a very different side to the public image: capturing the sheer slog of training and periods of exhaustion as well as him competing at Stoke Mandeville, home of Paralympian sport, and times of celebration.
Displayed in five sections, the photographs follow a timeline and have a natural progression.
And having represented the country at five Paralympic Games during a career which has taken in 25 international medals including three back-to-back Paralympic golds - the first at Atlanta in 1996 making him Britain’s youngest ever winner - Stephen, who married last year, is well is used to the limelight.
He said: “Dan did a great job.
“It’s every aspect of my work. Everybody knows what I do but the other stuff is what people don’t see normally.
“Everybody sees that moment with the gold medal; they don’t see all the work that goes on behind that.”
And that includes those days training at Gateshead Stadium - in “typical Gateshead weather, cloudy and windy!” and condition work at the Speeflex centre in Jesmond where Dan watched him burn 800 calories in 40 minutes and hit “100% fatigue” which is where the exhibition title comes from.
It’s now more than a year and a half since Stephen, who trains six days a week, had the hip surgery which set him back a bit and he says of next Tuesday, when he’ll be back in action to defend the title he’s won three times in a row: “I’m all prepared for that. I’m feeling good.” And of course Rio in 2016 is also on the agenda.
He said: “The idea of the exhibition is to try to inspire people to be the best they can be and give 100%. That’s the message we want to get out, especially to young people.”
100% Stephen Miller will run at Gateshead College Academy for Sport, at Gateshead International Stadium, from Monday until September 5 then Dan, 37, wants to tour it around the region. Already Sports Central at Northumbria University is lined up and he’s hoping for wider interest.
To help promote it, he has made a first ever video trailer, with the help of pal Ross Hannon, which features Stephen and will air on social media from Friday.
“I’ve had exhibitions in the past and this is completely different,” he says. “It’s not about me; it’s about the project and Stephen.
“He’s had such a big journey and such a positive journey.”