Asya Miller is aiming to represent Team USA at an astounding sixth-straight Paralympic Games this August in Tokyo. In her five previous Paralympic Games, Asya has earned four medals. Her first medal, a bronze, came as a track and field athlete in the discus throw at the Sydney 2000 Games. The other three Paralympic medals all came in goalball, winning silver in 2004, gold in 2008, and bronze in 2016. Asya has also competed internationally in powerlifting. Find out more about Asya, including her fondness for tater tots and dinosaurs, in this Q&A:
Q: How were you first exposed to goalball?
A: I went to undergrad at Western Michigan University where the Ponchillias had an extensive program. I met other visually impaired students who also played.
Q: Can you describe what it’s like being on the court during a Paralympic Games match?
A: No. It is hard to relate it to any experiences most people have. But I will try…exciting, stressful, emotional, intense.
Q: What’s your favorite place you’ve competed?
A: Beijing. The venue was full, the fans were excited but yet knew when to be quiet.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced on your journey to becoming a five-time Paralympic athlete?
A: Life, work, money, injury to some extent but really the support for athletes is pretty good. It wasn’t always good but it has gotten a lot better.
Q: Do you have a typical warm-up routine? Pre-game music?
A: Absolutely. I take a long time. Getting dressed is like putting on armor before a battle. I have a special playlist that is specific to getting in the “Zone”.
Q: What from your career are you most proud of so far?
A: 2014 MVP of the Goalball World Championships. 2008 Paralympic Gold Medal. 2009 ESPY nomination (for female with a disability).
Q: How have you managed to stay driven and focused with the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: An elite athlete knows that they never stop training no matter what happens, and does not make excuses. That is the difference between casual athletes and elite.
I either stayed active by doing things I enjoyed, like kayaking. Or things I do not enjoy, like running and pushups, because of the challenge.
But it was not without its adversity.
I got “doored” by a car – which means you are riding your bike and a parked car opens its door into you. That set me back for over a month. I had a mild version of COVID-19 in December but still worked out, just not as intense.
Q: What can you do to further your success and the team’s success within goalball?
A: You train hard because you don’t want to let your team down. You don’t want to be the weakest link or the one who lets everyone down. It’s the exact opposite. Even though I am not in Fort Wayne, I will show up to camp and training and hold my own or flip the 400lb tire (for fun). Our team does a good job of communicating the things being practiced in Fort Wayne. That way everyone can be successful.
Q: What do you picture life after goalball looking like for you?
A: I dabble in coaching and officiating. I am a certified throws coach for USA Track & Field, and I like to apply what I know to help other athletes in goalball.
Q: What is your favorite cheat food?
A: Tater Tots.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: I am a fan of any athlete that is above the average age and still kicks butt!
Q: What is one interesting thing that a lot of people don’t know about you?
A: I cut my own hair. I drive. I like to build things. I really like dinosaurs.