Greco-Roman wrestler added to New Zealand Olympic team

By David Leggat

The fact Craig Miller became the latest addition to the New Zealand Olympic team on the same day the full scale of Russia's state-sanctioned doping was revealed has a certain irony.

The Dunedin wrestler, now based in Canberra, was confirmed in the 66kg Greco Roman category for Rio after Vinod Kumar, the Australian grappler who beat him at the Africa/Oceania qualifying event in Algiers in April, was rubbed out for a doping violation - and not a Russian in sight.

Miller, who wrestled freestyle at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is chuffed at the turn of events.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "This is what every kid dreams of."

Miller doesn't like reflecting on the turn of events which has him preparing for the Olympics.

"I was always hopeful of this decision. We suspected [Kumar might be doping] but kept that quiet.

"I don't like dwelling on that too much. He's out, he's gone, and it's all about getting my mindset right to do the best I possibly can."

Russia is a major player in wrestling. A blanket ban would cause havoc to the Olympic draw but, as Miller put it, "it needs to be done. I'm happy the IOC and Wada are looking at it seriously. "Russia are a powerhouse, the All Blacks of the wrestling world. They [IOC] are damned if they do, damned if they don't but, for wrestling, it's such a scandal."

Miller, 31, is happier wrestling Greco Roman, where there is no attacking the legs, and has an upper body focus.

"Now I don't have to worry about my legs, life's a lot simpler," he quipped. "Freestyle is faster and more scrambly. Greco is more subtle - some people say more boring - and more of a grind, but you get the big throws in Greco which is what it's all about."

- NZ Herald

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