Captain of his ship
Editor's Note: This is the last in a three-part series previewing Dickinson State alumni who are competing for the Bahamas at the Summer Olympics in London.
Ramon Miller has no one to blame but himself for how he performs at the Summer Olympics.
Miller is taking an approach that isn't unprecedented. But it's not one most world-class runners are known to take in their training.
For more than a year, the Bahamas sprinter and Dickinson State graduate has been without a proper coach.
It hasn't seemed to hinder him either.
Miller has qualified for the London games in three different events -- the 200 and 400 meters and as a member of the Bahamas' outstanding 1,600 relay team. However, he only plans to compete in the 400 and 1,600 relay.
"This year, I'm doing everything on my own," Miller said. "I'm sailing my own ship, so if anything goes wrong, I'm to blame. I'm the captain of everything right now."
After leaving Dickinson in 2010 -- two years after helping the Bahamas 1,600 relay team win a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics -- Miller went to Orlando, Fla., where he began working with former U.S. Olympic team coach Brooks Johnson.
But, something just didn't click between Miller and the veteran mentor.
"He's a pretty good coach, but he just wasn't my suit," Miller said.
The difficulty of not being able to mesh with Johnson was compounded by back and hamstring injuries, turning 2010 into a nightmare for Miller.
"It was a real rough year for me," Miller said.
It wasn't without a couple of silver linings though.
In October of that year, Miller won a bronze medal in the 400 meters with a time of 45.55 seconds at the Commonwealth Games in New Dehli. One month later, he celebrated the birth of his daughter, now 20-month-old Ram-monica.
In 2011, he left Johnson's camp and has been mostly on his own ever since.
"I just wasn't progressing like I wanted to," Miller said. "I made a decision and I just started working on my own, doing what I did in Dickinson, which I know helped me. After I left him, I started to see an improvement."
In August 2011, Miller won his heat in the 400 meters at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, with a time of 45.31 seconds. He finished just 13th overall. In October, he won another bronze, this time at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, with a time of 45.01 seconds.
That set him up for this year's big push toward London.
He ran a personal-best time of 44.87 seconds in the 400 while finishing second to Demetrius Pinder in the Bahamas Olympic Trials and had an Olympic qualifying time of 20.5 seconds in the 200 at a meet in Tampa, Fla., in May.
Miller's breakout season comes as no surprise to DSU head track and field coach Pete Stanton.
"Ramon has just taken off," said Stanton, who coached Miller to 12 NAIA individual or relay championships. "He's so talented and has such great work ethic. He knows where he wants to go."
While Miller wants to challenge for the podium in the 400, he knows his best shot of earning another Olympic medal comes as a member of his countries' 1,600 relay team. The Bahamas owns the fifth-fastest time in the world (3:00.56) coming into the Olympics. But, that time was set at the end of April, far from when any of the runners -- Miller included -- were at their peak.
"Me and the guys, we talk every day," Miller said of his relay teammates. "We talk about how practice is going. We don't even talk about the relay. Once we come together, everybody is healthy and we're going to go after it and hope for the best."
Miller opted not to run the 200 at the Olympics, saying he hit the qualifying mark while trying to test his speed and see if his training was progressing well. Plus, his time doesn't rank high enough for him to be considered a medal contender.
Nonetheless, Stanton said to qualify for the Olympics in three events says much about the level at which Miller is competing.
"He's just an extreme talent," Stanton said. "When you take three events, how many people in the world can qualify in three events for the Olympics?"