Image of Dean Miller on the trackCategoriesEvents

From Student Athlete to Coach: Para Sport with Dean Miller

From Student Athlete to Coach: Para Sport with Dean Miller

Dean Miller is our Endurance Manager and Coach for the Athletics club here at the University. To mark Disability History Month and International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we spoke to Dean about his journey as a former Para-athlete.


Once a  student himself at the University of Birmingham and part of our Athletics club, Dean provides real insight into the opportunities that were made available to him through the University and beyond, and reflects on how the opportunities have changed over the years within the para-sport field.

Image of Dean Miller coaching students in Font Romeu

Credit: Zach Bridgelands

Q: For those less familiar, what is Para Sport?


‘It’s a fantastic spectrum of events, and actually it’s really hard to describe in just a few words – but it’s a huge thing, it’s a movement. It’s a sporting spectacle based around the Paralympics and Paralympic sport, which is born from the Olympic Games. But our sport is based around sport for disabled people at all different levels, ranging from participation level in clubs athletes, fitness and rehab, right the way through to the real elite and world class side of things at the Paralympic Games, who receive sponsorships and make a living from sport. I’m a massive advocate for Para Sport and we’re trying to do more for the University’.

Q: What opportunities were available to you that helped you get involved in para-athletics in the first place?

‘I actually think that my path was probably slightly different in that prior to joining the University of Birmingham as a student, I was already involved in non-para sport. My dad was an athletics coach. I think it was the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 that I happened to be watching, which would go on to be my classification, the 1500.

I said to my dad, those guys run like me – could I be on that stage? Then we started to explore how I could get into Para sport, and I was fortunate enough that I was a pretty good club athlete and with my Cerebral Palsy and the level of training, I was able to make some GB teams.

Off the back of that, my profile and where I was in the sport allowed me to come to University of Birmingham and be part of the scholarship program.’

Image of young Dean running on a track for GB

Q: What was your experience on the University of Birmingham Sport Scholarship Programme?


‘I was really well supported as a student athlete here; Birmingham has become my home. As I say, I’ve been here since 2007 now and they supported me well as a student athlete with a disability at a world class level.


I graduated in 2011 as an under-grad, but I’ve never left the place. They continued to support me through a graduate sports scholarship from 2011 to the end of my career in 2015, when I retired for injury. I’m now coaching the Universities athletics team here. I think in terms of opportunities the university is given me as someone within para sport, it’s kind of endless.


And from supporting me with the job, supporting my kind of my athletic skills as an athlete along with socially and educationally.’


Q: What is your fondest memory during your time competing?


‘It has to be the home games. I didn’t ever think I’d compete in front of 80,000 people, which I got to do.


The 2012 Paralympics is the biggest Paralympics ever. It’s the first Paralympic Games ever to be sold out. I remember speaking to one of my training partners at the time that summer and he said, I can’t get a ticket for your event. And I said, I’m sure we’ll be able to sort one out. And actually, at that point I think I realised I was going to be competing in front of a packed-out Olympic stadium.


I think I was one of only two Brits on that evening, so it was a pretty surreal moment. I always describe as I felt like I was running in a PlayStation game. It felt crazy and I probably never experienced anything like that again. For me, having that evening in the stadium to run a Paralympic final was really, really special.’

Q: How have the opportunities available to para-athletes improved since you first got involved, and what specifically does the University of Birmingham offer para-athletes, in terms of opportunities to participate, develop and compete?

It’s funny how opportunities available to us athletes have improved since I first got involved and what specifically was being invested in the athletes. I think the Paralympics and the Paralympic movement and power sport is always like a little sister or brother to the Olympic Games, so we always we are always playing catch-up in that sense.


But as I said, I’ve just spoke about the 2012 Games and what the games did for our sport in helping throw para sport into the mainstream channels, like marketing campaigns.

We’ve seen so much more opportunity, the Paralympic Games are growing. More sports are involved now, and there’s more money in the sport so our athletes can genuinely be world class in the classification in our event and go on top careers, which is something that maybe like 20 years ago and just before the London Games was much smaller.


And you’ve got household names. You’ve got you got your Jonnie Peacock, Johanna Cockcroft, they aren’t just world class athletes, but also celebrities and have made careers and are advocates for para sports. So, I think what the games in 2012 did was massive from a university perspective.’

Dean pictured next to student athlete with track in background

Credit: Zach Bridgelands

Athletics Club running on track in Font Romeu

You can find out more about the Athletics club that Dean coaches using the link below.

Andrew Stamp in the pike movement on mid-air.CategoriesMember News Student News

Five Minutes With: Andrew Stamp

Five Minutes With: Andrew Stamp

Biological Sciences student, Elite Sport Scholar, 2023 BUCS Champion and British Gymnastics’ World Class Performance Programme star Andrew Stamp made history at the Trampoline World Championships in 2022, recording the highest-placed finish of a British male in the Olympic era and becoming Team All-Around Champion.


Now, with the 2023 World Championships also under his belt – in which Andrew led the Men’s Trampoline team to a bronze medal, the first in this category since 1992 – and the countdown to Paris 2024 well and truly on, we caught up with Andrew to find out how he manages to balance his University of Birmingham degree alongside elite sport, whilst also keeping his focus on Olympic qualification.

Andrew Stamp mid-air, representing team GB at the Trampolining World Championships.

Q: How did you get into Trampoline Gymnastics and what do you enjoy most about it?


I first started gymnastics when I was four or five years old and then transitioned into Trampoline Gymnastics when I was 11. I think my parents always just wanted me to go and burn energy because I was always such a hyper kid, but to me, the best thing about trampolining is the feeling of floating through the air. I’ve never done anything that’s kind of replicated that, or even got close to it.

Q: How do you think being a sport scholar on the EDCAP Elite programme has supported your progression to date?


The EDCAP scholarship has been massively important for me, especially to help me balance my studies and training. It’s allowed me to go part-time with my studies, so that I can focus on training when I need to whilst not sacrificing my degree.

Andrew Stamp mid-air, representing team GB at the Trampolining World Championships.

Q: You’re now mid-way through your academic course – how do you find balancing these demands alongside elite sport?


Balancing a degree and training is definitely a challenge, especially with my training not being centralised here in Birmingham. But the Scholarship team has definitely helped me organise my time and organise my skills so that it’s possible. They’ve helped me realise that it really is possible to do both.


Q: What advice would you give to a student-athlete looking to pursue elite sport alongside their academics?


Definitely do it! Although  sport is our entire world, it won’t last forever unfortunately so it’s best not to see getting a degree as a plan B or a fall-back. It’s part of the journey and it’s going to set you up well after school and even during school for future careers and development.

Q: What did it mean to win BUCS Individual and Team Gold for UoB last year?

The competition was a really fun competition to do, actually. With it being held in Birmingham just over the road was ideal, and to represent and come away with two gold medals to give back to the University and Performance Sport Department after all they’ve done for me…it was really nice.

Q: What does a typical training week look like for you?

My training is broken down into what we call ‘Jump’ sessions or ‘Tramp’ sessions, which is the time actually spent on the trampoline, practicing and honing the skills. These are supplemented with strength sessions – which work on increasing and improving overall power, so that we can jump higher, perform bigger scales –  but also with conditioning, which is more like bodyweight exercises for injury-prevention. Conditioning tends to be focused around core, back, ankles… basically our joints, to make sure that we’re working all the ligaments and making sure they’re robust enough that when we hit a trampoline, we’re going to bounce back up and not just crumble!

Andrew Stamp mid-air, representing team GB at the Trampolining World Championships.

Q: How do you feel your preparation for this year’s World Championships went for you?


My preparation for the World Championships went really well. We spent three weeks with the team at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall, just practicing, trying to master those 1%’s. This year, we’ve done a lot of international competitions, which I think has helped really prepare me and the rest of the team for the big stages. Like, how to approach competition and how to get the best out of yourself on the day, which I feel really benefitted my preparation for the World Champs.


Q: How do you feel the 2023 World Championships went for you personally?


For me, the World Championships was a bit of a mixed one. I performed some good routines, but unfortunately just not quite at the right time. Ultimately though, if you’re walking away with two Championship medals (Men’s Trampoline Team and the All-Around Team) it definitely can’t be classed as a ‘bad competition’. I’m just taking away some improvements I need to make and some new focuses in training to work on before the next one.


Q: How have the results you achieved during this time inspired/motivated you for this season so far, and your future goals?


So this year, we’ve done a series of three cuts out of five so far, plus the World Championships, which are all a part of the qualification process for the Olympic Games and I’ve ultimately been collecting points and gradually moving up the leaderboard. My achievements and performances to date definitely motivate me to keep pushing for the Olympics – it’s becoming more real…the goal is getting closer and closer. So it’s definitely motivational to have that within reach and to be able to keep pushing for it.

What They Said…

As part of his Elite Dual Career Athlete Pathway (EDCAP) sport scholarship, Andrew works closely with Jo to ensure he is well-equipped to find and manage the balance between his demands, so that he can maximise his potential across all areas, without having to sacrifice one for another.


“The key focus with Andrew is making sure he feels able to achieve his best, both on the trampoline and in his academic course. We have been able to facilitate this by accessing academic flexibility which is available to EDCAP scholars through the Wellbeing Team in his college. More time to complete assessments means Andrew doesn’t need to take valuable time away from training and sleep, but is still able to commit the necessary time to deliver the standard of work he is happy with. Also, being able to ensure no assessments clash with his competitions means he is able to focus on delivering his best performance with no distractions.”


– Joanna Eley, UoB Sport Performance Lifestyle Lead