Nick Willis is aiming to meet the 1500m qualifying standard
for this year's world championships in Moscow on home soil
tomorrow night with a one-off race in Auckland.
The Olympic silver medallist, who has raced in Christchurch,
Wellington, Wanganui and Palmerston North over the past
couple of months, will end his New Zealand summer with a
one-off race at the Millennium track tomorrow night.
The race, which is open to the public, will double as a final
tune-up for next week's Sydney Grand Prix, where Willis has
his sights set on the world championship mark. But the
Olympic silver medallist will be even happier if he can knock
off the time in Auckland.
"Athletes like to get these things out of the way early in
case of illness or injury," said race organiser Chris Pilone.
With a personal best and New Zealand record of 3:30.35, set
in Monaco last year, Willis knows the 3:35.00 qualifying time
is well within his capabilities, but he will rely on the
local field to push him through.
Pilone has lined up two pacemakers but he said Willis was
likely to have to run solo for a large part of the race if he
was to eclipse the qualifying time on home soil.
"Potentially he is going for something reasonably fast," said
Pilone. "We've organised a couple of pretty good pacemakers
for him, but they will probably only get him through to 1000m
at the required pace, so he'll have to do a lot of the donkey
Willis had hoped to run in the relaunched Queen St mile on
April 1, but could not squeeze the event into his busy
training and competition schedule leading into Moscow.
But he is still keen to support John Walker's Find Your Field
of Dreams Foundation before he heads back to the United
States, and will donate some of the sponsorship for the event
to the foundation.
- Dana Johannsen of the New Zealand Herald