Nick Willis breaks John Walker's 1500m record

Last updated 16:10 22/02/2010

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Olympic 1500m silver medallist Nick Willis continued his return to top form with a record-breaking effort at the Aviva indoor grand prix athletics meeting in Birmingham.

Willis broke John Walker's 31-year-old 1500m New Zealand indoor record by almost two seconds when he finished fifth in three minutes 35.80 seconds.

The race was won by Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen in 3min 33.10sec ahead of Kenya's Augustine Choge in 3min 33.74sec. Willis was just edged out of fourth by archrival Bernard Lagat (USA), who ran 3min 35.49sec.

Walker's New Zealand record stood at 3min 37.4sec, set at Long Beach California in January 1979.

Willis' previous best indoors was 3min 38.85sec set in Boston a year ago.

The run continues an impressive return to top-level running for the United States-based runner, after he missed most of the 2009 season with a hip injury which required surgery.

Willis ran a couple of low-key meetings in New Zealand in late January, then went on to defend his mile title at the 15th Boston Indoor Games earlier this month with classy 3min 55.27sec win.

He now returns down under under for a meeting in Melbourne on March 4, where he will race against Beijing Olympic gold medallist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya.

Willis will then run in Christchurch's international track meeting on March 18, with organisers hopeful Kiprop may also be available to compete.

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- NZPA

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