Hammer disrespected by Diamond League - Nick Miller

By Mike HensonBBC Sport
Nick Miller
Miller is ranked fourth in the world in the hammer
European Team Championships
Venue: Bydgoszcz, Poland Dates: 9-11 August
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Britain's Nick Miller has accused Diamond League organisers of 'disrespect' over the event's exclusion from athletics' top-level series.

The hammer has been left out of the Diamond League programme since the series started in 2010.

"I don't understand where this kind of disrespect has come from. It should not be like that," Miller told BBC Sport.

"Every event is unique. Just because you are a big strong thrower does not mean you are not an athlete."

The 26-year-old Commonwealth Games champion, who was born in Carlisle but now trains in California, says the lack of exposure means even the best hammer throwers struggle to attract the same corporate backing of athletes in other events.

"I know the Olympic champion [Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan] has no sponsorship deal at the moment, the Olympic medallist from the UK [Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon] doesn't have a deal," he said.

"There is very little money, that is not why we are in the sport, but when you need to eat it is essential.

"We wish we were in the Diamond League and the same as everyone else, but that has to come from the top. We have been screaming about it for years but nothing has changed."

Currently, hammer and 10,000m are the only Olympic disciplines missing from the Diamond League programme.

However it is set to be slimmed down further from 2020 with another eight events across men's and women's categories set to miss out on Diamond League competition.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has stated that the 5,000m will be dropped, with no race longer than 3,000m to be considered for Diamond League status.external-link

Organisers have previously cited infrastructure issuesexternal-link, such as the need for a cage at the rear of the throwing circle and potential damage to undersoil heating as the reason behind hammer being left out.

The IAAF hosts a separate series of hammer events - the Hammer Throw Challengeexternal-link - which this year consists of nine events leading up to the World Championships in Doha in September.

Familiarity breeds camaraderie

Miller will take on world and Olympic bronze medallist and 2019 world leader Wojciech Nowicki of Poland as part of the Great Britain team at the European Team Championships this weekend.

France's Quentin Bigot, who finished fourth ahead of sixth-placed Miller at the 2017 World Championships in London, is also in the field.

Miller says that familiarity breeds camaraderie in the cage.

Nick Miller receives his gold medal at Gold Coast 2018
Nick Miller won Commonwealth gold in 2018, four years after his silver in Glasgow

"It is nice in the hammer, pretty much every competition is the same, it is the same eight or 10 guys who are competing," he said.

"You all have ups and downs and kind of support each other through, even though you are competing against each other."

Britain's last success was in 2008 when the men's team won the European Cup - a previous incarnation of the current event.

Superbikes and bragging rights

Miller says his personal best of 80.26m, achieved on the way to gold on the Gold Coast last year, has given him bragging rights over his Swedish coach Tore Gustafsson.

Gustafsson's personal best during his career was 80.14m.

Tore Gustafsson and Sophie Hitchon
Gustafsson (right) also coaches Miller's team-mate Sophie Hitchon

"Throwing in excess of 80 metres used to really consume me, until I did there was always a bit to prove - mainly to my coach," Miller added.

"Luckily I threw further than him and now there are no more comments about it."

Away from athletics, Miller also has to take care to stay the right side of big numbers as he relaxes by riding his collection of motorbikes.

"Riding them is a daily thing," he said.

"I told my wife when I first met her that if she ever told me to get rid of them, that would be it. But they are staying and so is she so we are all good!"

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