19 Jul 2016

Wrestler says his sport will be changed forever by Russian doping

12:35 pm on 19 July 2016

The latest addition to the New Zealand Olympic team for Rio, the Greco-Roman wrestler Craig Miller, says his sport will be changed forever by the latest twist in the Russian doping saga.

NZ wrestler Craig Miller.

NZ wrestler Craig Miller. Photo: NZOC

The 31-year-old Miller will compete in the 66kg weight division and claims the spot following the suspension of Australian Vinod Kumar for doping.

He says there will be a huge fallout if Russian wrestlers are banned from the Games.

"Russia is the All Blacks of wrestling, they're the powerhouse, they routinely win the world championships and team titles."

"There is a Russian man in every division at the Olympics, and so if they are banned then it'll rock the sport and will be such a scandal if they're not there."

Miller says if Russian wrestlers are banned from Rio it would significantly increase the other athletes chances of winning.

Miller grew up in Dunedin and attended Kavanagh College where he first began competing in 2002. Since taking up the sport at school the Rio-bound wrestler has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a 7th place finish at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 65kg Freestyle division.

Now based in Canberra, Miller made the shift to Australia shortly after the Commonwealth Games and hasn't looked back, honing in on his preferred Greco-Roman wrestling and chasing Rio selection.

"After retiring from the Freestyle discipline after Glasgow, I'm really excited to now be confirmed as New Zealand's wrestler for Rio. The Olympic Games are the absolute pinnacle event in wrestling and I can't wait to join the NZ Team next month," he said.

With recent form on his side Miller heads into the Games with renewed confidence, having recorded a second place finish behind Albanian wrestler Meroldo Ndoha at the Australia Cup in Victoria earlier in July.

"I'm inspired by the challenge. For wrestlers in this part of the world our international opponents set a very high standard, but that only motivates me to be better and work harder to perform.

"For me, selection into the New Zealand Team fills me with immense pride, I am the sole wrestler on the team, which means I carry the weight of all of NZ Wrestling. I can't disappoint that amazing group of people," he said.