Kiwi Craig Miller fills Rio wrestling vacancy

  • 19/07/2016
Craig Miller
Craig Miller

Dunedin wrestler Craig Miller has benefited from the banning of a Greco-Roman rival by being named in the New Zealand team for the Rio Olympics.

Miller, 31, fills a spot in the 66kg class left vacant by the suspension of Australian champion Vinod Kumar last week for a doping violation.

Kumar tested positive at the African/Oceania Olympic qualifying in Algeria in April, where he beat Miller 12-6 in their semi-final.

A subsequent test of his B sample was also positive, resulting in a four-year suspension, although he has 30 days to appeal.

Miller's promotion rewards a switch to the Greco-Roman style after representing New Zealand in freestyle competition at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where he placed seventh.

He moved to Canberra soon afterwards and has produced a series of good results, including a runner-up finish at the Australia Cup tournament in Victoria this month.

With the Games starting in less than three weeks, Miller is embracing the task of preparing mentally, as well as physically.

"I'm inspired by the challenge," he said.

"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."

Miller is the 100th male named in the Kiwi team for Rio and the 199th athlete in total.

Wrestling is the second Kiwi sport to benefit from an offshore doping infraction.

The men's rowing four won a late selection this month after a Russian boat was banned following a positive test for a banned substance by a crew member.