Above:Nick Willis finishing third in heat 3 of the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (Photo by Oliver Morin/AFP/Getty Images)
Nick Willis and Julian Matthews comfortably qualified for the semi-finals of the 1500m at the world championships in athletics in Beijing today.
Relishing the opportunity to race in the Bird's Nest again after winning the silver at the 2008 Olympic Games Willis settled to the rear of his heat running comfortably in lane two. It was the fastest heat and when the pace went on the final lap Willis made his move down the back straight and was well positioned to challenge.
He looked relaxed as he exerted just enough speed to ease into third place in 3:38.27. Silas Kiplagat of Kenya won in 3:38.13.
Willis was off the track smartly preferring to bypass any interviews through the media mixed zone.
Matthews was in an earlier heat and stuck to the pole line holding the pace set by the bunch. The former New Zealand 1500m champion clinched an automatic qualifier finishing sixth in 3:39.55.
"I'm very stoked with that, it worked out for me kind of like the first heats of the Commonwealth Games, got on the rail, didn't have much drama which is surprising. I just stuck to the game plan and it worked out luckily the last automatic spot. It's great”, said Matthews.
Taking the pole line from the start was the game plan for Matthews.
"I had to take the gamble with that cause I'm not as quick as these guys over the 1500m. I just found myself in a great position relaxed and knew that it was going to be a very quick last lap and it was and I managed to hold off some of the other guys."
Matthews who has raced extensively in Europe leading up to the championships found the conditions to his liking.
"We don't really suffer from the heat too much in a 1500, it's actually better for us to have a bit of heat just for the legs to be warm and stuff. It's a really great atmosphere out there, he said.
Matthews said that it had been a long season but having raced so much I'm kind of more comfortable in dealing with tactics and things like that.
From Murray McKinnon in Beijing