STEPHANIE Millward is relishing the prospect of competitive racing again as she seeks qualification for the World Para Swimming European Championships in Dublin.

Box’s Millward – who has won nine Paralympic medals in her career, including two golds at Rio 2016 – heads to Sheffield next week to take part in the national trials ahead of the competition in August.

Millward, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 17, has been starved of serious racing of late, having missed out on last year’s IPC World Championships in Mexico City after the competition was rescheduled following the devastating earthquake in the country last September.

The 36-year-old is therefore keen for a strong showing next week, where she will also have her disability swimming classification assessed.

“I have been training for a long time, so I am really looking to competing again,” said Millward, who trains with Aquae Sulis at Team Bath.

“I was meant to go to the world championships last year, but they were cancelled because of the earthquake, and then I had an Open meet cancelled due to the snow.

“Everybody in the UK is being reclassified if they have a physical disability. Some people have already been done and some others are being done at this event.

“I’m excited. I love swimming, I love racing and I love being part of the GB team.”

Next week’s trials mark the next step in Millward’s attempt to qualify for a fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo in two years’ time.

However, that has not been helped by British Para Swimming’s decision to withdraw her funding last year.

Since then, Millward has been aided by sponsorship from Trowbridge-based firm Hitachi Capital UK, although that expires after the trials.

The four-time world champion is therefore looking for additional help to support her on the journey to Japan.

“I’ve had amazing help from Hitachi but after they stop their sponsorship, I’m going to have to do it without extra funding. I am looking for any help,” said Millward, who also works as a swimming teacher and life coach.

“Tokyo is only two years away, which is not long at all.

“I want a chance to compete at another Paralympics, I want another gold medal, I want a chance to prove that you can still do it whatever age you are.

“At the moment, they (British Para Swimming) just point to the fact I am over 25. That’s fair enough, but I think that if you have got the will to be the best, nothing can get in your way.

“I have had many hurdles in my career and I have got over every single one of them so far. I just say keep them coming and I will be ready.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring Millward can contact her PR manager Graham Wright on 07487 241907.