Above: Joseph Millar winning his first national 100m title in 2012. Photo by Alan McDonald Macspeedfoto.
What was your first significant win?
Joseph Millar, three times NZ double sprint champion and currently the fastest man in the country, was one of the star performers for New Zealand at the recent Coles Nitro Athletics Series in Melbourne. Here we find out more about the 24-year-from Tauranga.
Why and how did you start in the sport of athletics?
I was always fast. I played hockey as a kid and I guess I wanted to see how fast I could go from A to B taking out the stick and the ball! I liked the feeling of being faster than my friends, and once I took up the sport this quickly escalated to the point where I wanted to be quicker than everyone in New Zealand.
I remember running at the Waikato Championships in the 100m final when I was aged 15. That day I was up against guys who were older and bigger and stronger than me, however, I turned up with the attitude that I wasn’t going to be intimidated. At the halfway stage I was down on the field, but I remember coming home strongly and flying past everyone in the second half of the race. That was the first time I think I had ever gone beyond what I thought I was previously capable of.
What was your first major setback?
It was an injury I suffered at the end of 2010, which was to cause me pain every day for the next nine months. I had an incident where the two bones which attached the spine to the hip snapped, which meant my spine was sliding off the front of my hips and crushing my nerves. The injury not only meant I couldn’t run fast, but I also couldn’t even enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep. That was one of the darkest periods of my life.
Best piece of coaching advice?
The best philosophy I have received has come from my current coach, Paul Gamble, who says we have to work on doing things right first and then doing them often. It is a very simple but effective approach, which means we work on doing things properly and as efficiently as possible at first and only then later work on increasing the volume.
What qualities do think every athlete needs to succeed?
It is self-belief. I think perhaps some of the overseas athletes aren’t physically in as good a shape as many of the New Zealand athletes, but I think their belief allows them to achieve greater results. It’s the New Zealand culture not to be cocky on any level but that level of self-belief and not putting any limits on what you can achieve, is a personality trait you need to be a top athlete.
What is most important thing you have learned from your time in the sport?
The importance of realising that although athletics is an individual sport you have the support of friends and team-mates and that you are not always on your own.
What is the best thing about being an athlete?
I think it is knowing that in the eyes of many people we can run, jump and throw and have the strength and power that is superior to most non-athletes.
If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
It would have to be super-speed! This would be not just to go A to B as quickly as possible, but also that feeling of being able to move that quickly.
What is your hidden talent?
I have been known to be quite good at drawing. Before I got into running, I wanted to be an artist.
What would be your last meal?
A place in Melbourne does the best eggs benedict I’ve tasted. While a place In Mairangi Bay does a pretty special Tim Tam ice chocolate. If I could have both, that would be perfect.
What is your karaoke song?
I love Ronan Keating’s ‘When You Say Nothing At All’.
What is your greatest indulgence?
I love kayaking with a mate. We recently went fishing out at sea on a two-man kayak.
If you could have three dinner party guests, who would they be and why?
Usain Bolt is a guy who inspired me from the moment I decided I one day wanted to compete at the Olympic Games. He has broken the mould and done things few could have imagined. I would maybe have three dinner parties and invite him back every night!