Above: Nick Willis on his way to eighth in the 1500m final at the World Championships. Photo by Alisha Lovrich / Temposhot.
Nick Willis was not too disheartened in not coming away with a medal in the final of the 1500m on the final day of the IAAF World Championships in London.
The Olympic silver and bronze medalist over the distance took up third to last from the start allowing Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot to force a solid pace out front.
When the pressure went on with a lap to run Willis was unable to move up to be within striking distance of a medal.
The 34 year old from Lower Hutt did however make up a number of places over the closing stages of the race, finishing eighth in 3:36.82.
Elijah Manangoi of Kenya who has a season’s best of 3:28.80, won in 3:33.61, from Cheruiyot 3:33.99 and Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen 3:34.53.
Willis said coming into the Championships he was positive that he had a shot at a medal.
“I’m surprisingly pleased and happy, eighth in the world off a ten weeks training, I can’t really complain with that. Those guys beat me by six seconds in Monaco, three seconds today so the improvements happening but obviously not in time. I picked up some pretty bad shin splits at the end of March and I tried to keep training through them. I’d run two days have to take four days off with aqua jogging. And I got away with a couple of okay workouts and I won the Boston road mile and then I ran the mile in Minneapolis off three weeks of cross-training. It was only in June that I got back to regular jogging and I didn’t start work outs till the last weekend in June," said Willis.
Willis said that even if he had been further up the field he wouldn’t have had his usual finishing kick.
“Even if I’m up there and got no finish, I’ve got to try and stay in contention but have something left for the last 200m but the other guys were much too good today.”
Willis then dropped a bombshell.
“I haven’t told anyone publicly but six weeks after the Rio Olympics I had surgery on a sports hernia double release on my adductors.
“I spun it that I needed to take three months off for a break as I really didn’t want meet directors to know that I was going under the knife and I might miss out on appearance fees the following year.
“That probably played a role in the injuries after that but now I’m fully healthy and still improving. I wasn’t up with the top guys but I’m positive about it.
Nick said that he is looking forward to the challenge of the 5000m.
“I’ll get a really good training base in over October, November, December before the Commonwealth Games in April.”
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent