11 Aug 2017

Willis through to 1500 semis

9:50 am on 11 August 2017

The New Zealand runner Nick Willis has qualified for the semi-finals of the 1500 metres at the World Athletics Championships in London.

Nick Willis crosses the line in third place in the men's 1500 metre final at the Rio Olympics, behind gold winner Matt Centrowitz of the USA.

Nick Willis takes bronze in Rio Photo: AFP

Willis, the Rio Olympic bronze medalist, forced his way through the field over the last 200 metres to finish fifth and grab one of the automatic qualifying spots.

In a slow heat, Willis ran 3 minutes 42.

He has a personal best in the event of 3 minutes 29.

The Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz of the United States finished last in his heat.

Willis said he felt very comfortable through the race.

"All that mattered was getting through using as little possible energy."

"I felt a little sluggish but not tired from working too hard, as much as it is to get out of third gear.

"There weren't as many guys challenging in the home straight as I thought there might be, so that was fortunate. I was able to jog it in the last 30 metres without having to fight to the line," said Willis.

The 34 year old is attending his sixth World Championships and despite his Olympic and Commonwealth medals, has never won a medal at a the world champs.

Meanwhile Canterbury's Angie Petty missed out on qualifying in the 800 by three hundreths of a second after she was fourth in her heat.

Competing at her third World Championships and requiring to finish in the first three or the next six fastest times, Petty clocked 2:01.76.

Petty was in a qualifying position until the last heat, where seven of the runners finished in faster times.

The national champion for the last six years and gold medallist at the 2015 World University Games in a personal best 1:59.06 said she was disappointed with her performance.

"I should have been running way better than that 2:01. But it was the way it was run maybe I didn't position myself really well."

Hamilton runner Camile Buscomb was last in her heat of the 5000 metres, following her disappointment in the 10,000m five days earlier.

Needing to finish in the first five or the next five fastest times Buscomb had to be satisfied with 16th place in 15:40.41. Overall she was 30th from the two heats.

The twenty seven year old, three times New Zealand 5000m champion, from Hamilton, has a personal best of 15:19.81 from two months ago in the Netherlands.

"I wasn't at the level to qualify for the championships so I had to push as much as I could early on in the season to get to the next level and it is hard to maintain that level without having a bit of a lull.

Javelin thrower Ben Langton-Burnell also failed to make it through to the finals of his event after throwing 76.46 metres - well below the 83 metre cut off point for the final 12.

Langton-Burnell has a personal best of 82.4 metres.