[Kealie Mardell | Print Editor]
Hertfordshire’s own Ian Miller is 81 years old, and is currently trying to raise enough money to travel to the USA to defend his strongman title.
Since he started competing in 1953, Miller has amassed 243 medals, won 40 world championships, received the first ever Welwyn Hatfield Sports Person of the Year award in 2004, and is the current Highland Games Masters World Champion.
Whilst serving in the army, with 27 ½ years in the Scots Guard, Miller broke his coccyx and was initially told he wouldn’t walk again. With a strength and determination that still shines 40 years later, Miller instead built himself back up, earning a black belt in karate in the process.
At 81 years old, he goes to the gym at 6:45am every morning, and is a voluntary coach, supporting many people including disabled athletes.
This year, on the 25th and 26th of September, the Highland Games will be taking place in St Louis, USA. As the current World Masters Champion, Miller hopes to be there to defend his title. But to get to America, he needs to raise £2,000.
Helping to achieve this is Jason Haines, Student Engagement Officer at Hertfordshire Students’ Union. It was after reading an article in the Welwyn Hatfield Times that Haines thought he might be able to help.
“I don’t really know Ian, or I didn’t until last week,” said Haines. “I’ve seen him in the gym most mornings, but we had never spoken.”
Haines contacted WHTimes who passed on the details so that he could contact Miller. Since then they have met a couple of times, and Haines has set up a GoFundMe page on his behalf, as well as a Facebook and Twitter page.
“I’ve also emailed a lot of papers and news outlets to try and raise his profile, as well as contacting loads of companies to try and get him some sponsorship,” said Haines.
Miller has paid the competition entrance fee, guaranteeing his spot to defend the title, but he is unable to afford the extra expenses of flights and accommodation. He has tried applying for part time jobs, but has been rejected because of his age – despite the fact that he is stronger than most people more than half his age.
“I think people should offer their support because Ian truly is an inspirational man,” says Haines. “Most people struggle to get up and go to the gym in the mornings, but here is a man at 81 years of age that goes every morning because he still has ambitions, he still has things to achieve. It would be a shame that he should be denied because he can’t afford the expenses.”
Miller told the WHTimes: “I want to get over to the USA because I reckon I can win the competition again. It was amazing winning it in Scotland but to retain it would be tremendous.”
Haines is urging anyone who can to donate or offer their support. He said:
“It would be great if people could donate whatever they can spare to his cause, but we would also love it if people wanted to hold events and fundraise in his name. One of the first things he said to me was that any money he had left over from the campaign he would donate to charity.”
If you can help this inspirational 81-year-old man in any way, please visit GoFundMe.com/IanToAmerica or get in touch through their social media accounts.