New Zealand’s top two middle distance athletes Nick Willis and Angie Petty are next up in the red hot cauldron that is the Bird’s Nest in Beijing at the 2015 IAAF World Championships.
Petty begins her campaign in the heats of the women’s 800m at 2:25pm (NZ time) on Wednesday, running in the third of six heats, and requiring to finish in the first three or have one of the six next fastest times to progress to Thursday’s semifinals.
Petty holds the seventh fastest 2015 ranking of the 45 athletes at the championships, but that will count for little as the cut-throat qualifying gets under way.
The 2015 World Universities champion ran 1:59.06 to win her title in the Korean city of Gwangju last month and will be hoping to improve on her 2013 world championships debut in Moscow, where she narrowly missed out on making it to the second round.
Nick Willis, as expected, has withdrawn from the 5000m event to concentrate on the 1500m which gets under way on Thursday with the heats starting at 2.35pm (NZ time).
Willis, Olympic silver medallist and three times Commonwealth Games medallist has had lean pickings at the biennial world championships, making the final in two out of his four appearances and with a best placing of 10th in 2007.
Two periods of altitude training in 2015 and a carefully planned racing programme have the Michigan resident the best prepared he has ever been and a New Zealand record over 1500m at the Monaco Diamond League meet 6 weeks ago indicate that this year could be a chance for Willis to improve on his world championships record.
Willis will be joined in the 1500m by fellow 2014 Commonwealth Games finalist Julian Matthews.