Action pictures of Randi Miller competing at the 2014 Dave Schultz Memorial by Robbert Wijtman.
Olympic medalist Randi Miller roars back to earn finals berth at the Dave Schultz Memorial
2008 Olympic Bronze medalist Randi Miller was not seen on the mat for more than five years after the Beijing Games, but aims to make a big comeback at this year’s Dave Schultz Memorial International.
Miller, now a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, is wrestling at 67 kg/147.5 lbs., and showing the kind of power and skill that made her an elite wrestler.
Miller’s semifinal match in the Dave Schultz Memorial had fans on their toes until the finish. After winning her first two matches with 10-1 and 11-1 technical fall decisions, Miller was paired with tough Feng Zhou of China, a 2012 Junior World champion.
The first period was tough for Miller. Zhou controlled the match until Miller was down 10-1, just one point from losing by technical fall. But Miller had other ideas planned.
“I got behind—an opponent can rack up on you faster than you think. But I knew I had enough time to come back as long as I wasn’t pinned or teched. You have to wrestle all six minutes,” Miller said. “That’s what was in my head: just keep wrestling, keep wrestling, keep wrestling and see what happens.”
Miller came roaring back, scoring a four-point move and keeping on the pressure, eventually beating Zhou with a 12-10 decision. Miller found this particular win especially satisfying; she had been hoping to meet Zhou on the mat.
“I know the Chinese women are tough and they came here to wrestle. I was really happy I got the chance to wrestle her,” Miller said.
Miller believes that its her unwillingness to give up is her strength as a competitor.
“I think what my wrestling brings to the table is that I won’t stop until it’s over,” Miller said.
Miller will meet 2012 World champion and three-time World medalist Elena Pirozhkova of Titan Mercury WC) in the finals match later this afternoon. Her plan for Pirozhkova is pretty simple.
“Same thing, I just want to wrestle hard for six minutes. I’ve taken like a five-year break. No excuses, though, I still want to win this tournament. But the main thing for me is to put together some good wrestling. That’s what I’m focused on,” she said
2008 was big year for Miller: not only was she the Olympic Bronze Medal winner, she was the U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion and the U.S. Nationals champion. She was at the top of her game when she decided to take a break from wrestling.
It has been over five years since Miller’s Olympic Bronze. She has only been back training for a year, and just started to compete this fall. She joined the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, as part of her plan to return to success. Has the absence from the mat left her feeling rusty?
“Yes, I feel that way but I always feel that I have things to work on. I feel like have been in better shape, but I’m not interested in being the person I was. I want to be better than that. I want to be better than the bronze medalist I was in 2008,” Miller said.
With a win this afternoon, she is taking the first step on her way.