Marine turned kayaker racing towards Paralympics

The USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Team Trials start this week at Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, site of the 1996 Olympic Rowing events. One of the Paralympic hopefuls competing will have a home course advantage. Montana native Nik Miller has spent the last six months training at Lake Lanier for a chance to make it to Rio De Janeiro and the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Miller has a strict training schedule, he is up early, in the water and pushing his body for hours on end, but he says it isn't that bad. "Whenever things start getting tough, I chuckle and say 'I've had it a helluva lot worse," says Miller.  'Worse' could mean his Marine Corps training or it could mean when a careless driver ran through a stop sign and hit Miller, causing him to loss his right leg from above the knee.

"It's a fact of life, I understand that," says Miller.

Miller was an instructor of Marines when the injury happened and it wasn't until after that that he begin kayaking.

"Pops told me that change is inevitable, growth is optional. The best way for me to grow is to start moving forward in life," says Miller.

A former Marine is an ideal pupil for Nik's coach Claudiu Ciur. "He's the most focused athlete that I have. He's very strong mentally and he's a very good racer too," says Ciur.

Nik has already raced internationally, but says the Paralympics would be a whole new level. "I'm pushing as hard as I can to make it to the Olympics this year. I know if I make it to the Olympics, it'll be just about as hard as medaling," says Miller.

Miller's event, the KL3 200 meter sprint will be raced in the Paralympics for the first time this year. While he says that the 2020 Games are his real goal, he has daydreamed about taking gold in Rio. "Seeing the American flag raised, and having the rest of the world see that flag and listen to our national anthem. It's what I've been raised under, it's what i trained under in the Marine Corps and it's what I paddle for now," says Miller.

After this week's event at Lake Lanier, Miller will then go to Germany for 2016 ICF Paracanoe Championships in Germany in May.