Mark Millar finishes sixth in wheelchair marathon

In what was only his fourth wheelchair marathon Team NI athlete Mark Millar recorded a sixth placed finish at the Birmingham Games.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Monday, 1st August 2022, 6:00 am

Millar showed his quality recording a personal best time of 1:58:48.

“I think I have to be delighted with that,” he said afterwards. “It’s my first Commonwealth Games, I’m only in a wheelchair four years after a big accident so I’m delighted to get to this level and be competitive.”

Millar competed in cycling before a life changing accident confined him to a wheelchair, but he was determined to continue in sport.

Team NI's Mark Millar

“I was paralysed in June 2018 just after the last Commonwealth Games,” he explained.

“It has been a tough journey back but also a very rewarding one coming into wheelchair sport and progressing as quickly as I have.

“I was probably top ranked at the amateur level in cycling but long distance triathlon was my main sport whenever the accident happened.

“I had a good aerobic base so it was just a matter of getting the arms built up and I took to the wheelchair racing quite quickly, I also did a bit of para-triathlon.”

Millar was actually competing in a cycling event when his accident occurred.

“I was doing the Ulster 100 mile time trial championships in Ballymena in June 2018 when I was hit from behind by an SUV,” he explained.

“I broke my back in four places and dislocated my pelvis along with a lot of other broken bones and injuries.

“I had a long period of rehab in the first year and then eventually just got back into sport and it has been a big part of my recovery.”

Millar was always determined to get back into competitive sport.

“I was always aware of wheelchair racing having watched the London marathon so many times and seen David Weir winning nearly every year so I was very aware of what opportunities that were available to me,” he said.

“I just wasn’t sure with the damage to my shoulders and my upper body injuries whether I would be competitive and when I took it up it was more for recreation and to keep fit.

“I then went to NI Athletics at Mary Peters track and I just got on well with the guys and my coach and I just progressed gradually from there.

“This is only my fourth marathon in a wheelchair. I did half a dozen as a runner, this is definitely the toughest one I have ever done, it is a very hilly course.”

Millar though soaked up the Commonwealth Games experience

“It’s mad I can’t believe it, I nearly couldn’t believe getting into the Commonwealth Games never mind finishing sixth,” he said.

“I heard my family cheering at the start and several points around the course, it really spurred my on and it was great to see them and have them there supporting me so it definitely gave me a boost and they were special moments.”

Millar has already set his sets on Victoria in four years.

“I’m definitely going to keep going,” he said.

“I’m 42 so I’m not sure how long I’ll still be enjoying it.

“It is a great way to travel and meet people, I’ll keep going as long as I can maybe the next Commonwealth Games.”