Eliza McCartney is through to the final of the pole vault, Nick Willis makes the semi-final of the 1500m and Nikki Hamblin added to final of the 5000m after dramatic fall.
McCartney overcame some first time Olympian nerves to qualify for the final of the pole vault with a first attempt clearance of 4.60m.
However there were some anxious moments in the earlier heights, selecting the correct pole and making 4.45m on her third attempt, then needing a second attempt to clear 4.55m.
The automatic qualifying height was 4.60m or at least the 12 best performers. McCartney was one of seven who were over the bar at 4.60m with the remaining five coming into the final having achieved 4.55m.
In a drama packed second heat of the 5000m Nikki Hamblin was accorded a place in the final after a tumble shortly after half way which also brought down American Abbey D’Agostino. They helped each other to their feet and bravely completed the distance. Following a review of the race both were given a place in the final.
Hamblin said that it all happened so fast.
“One minute I’m on my feet there’s some jostling in front and then I go down and the girl behind me went down and I’m better off than her, she’s pretty badly hurt and I’m so thrilled that she finished because she kind of picked me up off the ground, saying we’ve got to keep running. Abbey D’Agostino from USA an awesome girl and we should cheer for her. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my fault something happened in front of me to cause that,” said Hamblin after finishing the race.
“It was a lonely five or six laps, you’re running pretty slow because you know you just have to finish,” she added.
It was a last minute decision before scratching had to be declared that Hamblin gave herself a tick to start.
“I’m proud of myself to come back and run this race after the 1500m, I was that close to not running.”
Lucy Oliver, New Zealand’s other 5000m runner finished 14th in the first heat in 15:53.77, missing making the final by 29 seconds.
Nick Willis was the only New Zealand 1500m runner to make it to the semi-finals of the 1500m. Julian Matthews was just one place and 0.36s shy of making it and Hamish Carson drew the slowest heat and finished eighth in 3:48.18.
Matthews was first up in heat one and was well placed leading into the final lap. He worked hard in the finishing straight but couldn’t match the leg speed of those in front finishing ninth in 3:40.40.
Matthews said he felt fine going into the race.
“It felt alright, I felt I ran a good race tactically I just didn’t have it there for the final kick down the home straight. I was in touch all the way so it’s just disappointing to finish that way.
“It’s a real honour to be wearing this black singlet alongside Hamish and Nick we’re all very close and it’s been a special year for 1500m and I hope we can continue with it and bring more guys in as well,” he said.
Carson said it was an amazing experience to be at an Olympic Games for the first time.
“Just didn’t manage to get in that top six unfortunately. I put myself in a good position and then with about 500m to go I got a bit boxed in and had to work a bit too hard coming around with a lap to go. I didn’t have it done down that home straight unfortunately. I’m really stoked to be here, it’s an amazing atmosphere,” said Carson.
Willis was in the third heat and kept out of trouble over the first three laps running at the rear of the field. When the pace went on down the back straight for the last time Willis moved into a striking position and down the home straight an opening appeared and he neatly slotted into a qualifying sixth place in 3:38.55.
Willis was straight off the track and swiftly through the mixed zone.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent