Twenty-one-year old Kobe Miller is a proud Marlburian and is making an indelible mark in the rowing world.

He caught up with Chris Valli recently before heading to Cambridge to prepare for the World Junior Rowing Championships in Italy in July.

With a name like Kobe, it’s no surprise Miller’s pathway is a sporting one. And the parallels of this Wairau rower’s work ethic and determination are uncannily like those of his namesake, late Los Angeles Lakers basketballer Kobe Bryant. Educated at Marlborough Boys’ College, Miller’s introduction to rowing came about by chance through his older brother Isaiah’s involvement. Isaiah was a role model for his younger sibling, and a strong motivator. “I was a chubby little boy when I first started and thought it would be good fitness for the basketball season. Isaiah has always given me advice and I wanted to be like him and do even better. Sibling rivalry, if you will.”

The influence of like-minded peers at his college provided Miller with the intrinsic motivation to work hard at rowing and to embrace the discipline and application that were required to compete. “We kept chipping away at it and were pretty successful as the years went on. We won a few South Island championships and came close to some Maadi Cup golds.”

Miller credits a great deal of his rowing development to the likes of coaches Sean O’Neill, Dave Williamson, John Robbie and senior coach Bill Campbell. “Bill, especially, set the standard; he coached my brother and often set the tone. He was inspiring.”

The disappointment of finishing second to schools such as Hamilton Boys’ and King’s College (Auckland) were an added incentive for Miller to strive for excellence and train harder, especially after high school. His rowing resumé began to build rather nicely. He was chosen to represent New Zealand in the Junior team (U19) in Japan in 2019, where his crew made the B final and finished seventh in the world.