Photo-finish earns Nick Willis bronze in 1500m

12:23, Aug 03 2014
Martin Knight and Joelle King
Martin Knight plays a stroke, as team-mate Joelle King watches from behind, against England's Peter Barker and Alison Waters in their mixed doubles semifinal.
Li Feng Yang
New Zealand's Li Feng Yang twists and flips during a dive in the men's 10m platform preliminaries in Edinburgh.
Phil Burrows
The contrasting reactions at the final whistle of Raghunath Ramachandra (left) and Phil Burrows as India defeated New Zealand in the men's hockey semifinal.
Silver Ferns
Silver Ferns players celebrate as England's centre walks off the court in tears after their semifinal.
Ellen Halpenny
Goal shoot Ellen Halpenny lines up an attempt at goal during New Zealand's semifinal victory over England.
Laura Langman
Silver Ferns centre Laura Langman leaps high for a pass against England.
Casey Kopua
New Zealand captain Casey Kopua collides with England wing attack Sasha Corbin.
Silver Ferns
Silver Ferns reserves (from left) Anna Harrison, Leana de Bruin and Shannon Francois celebrate their one-point win with wing attack Liana Leota.
Simon Child
Simon Child dives on the turf to knock a pass away from an Indian player.
Nick Haig
Nick Haig scores from a penalty corner to give New Zealand a 2-0 lead against India.
Stephen Edwards
New Zealand's Stephen Edwards flicks the ball between the legs of India's Raghunath Ramachandra.
Black Sticks
Black Sticks players celebrate their first goal against India from Simon Child (left).
Krystal Forgesson
Krystal Forgesson is tackled by South Africa's Lenise Marais.
Sophie Cocks
Sophie Cocks makes a tackle during the Black Sticks' bronze medal victory over South Africa.
Gemma Flynn and Petrea Webster
Gemma Flynn and Petrea Webster in action during a wet bronze medal contest.
Martin Knight and Joelle King
Martin Knight and Joelle King compete in the mixed double squash semifinals against England.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis sprints for the line in the 1500m final.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis and Julian Matthews made up the Kiwi contingent in the 1500m final.
David Nyika
David Nyika tears up on the medal dais after winning gold in the light heavyweight final.
David Nyika
David Nyika with silver medalist Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius (left) and bronze medalist Sean McGlinchy of Northern Ireland.
David Nyika
David Nyika in action against Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in the light heavy gold medal bout.
David Light
Kiwi David Light evades a punch and look to throw a left hook of his own against Samir el-Mais of Canada.
Nick Willis
Nick Willis flies the New Zealand flag after claiming his third Commonwealth Games medal.
Stuart Farquhar
Stuart Farquhar flings the javelin during the men's final at Hampden Park.

There was a mix of relief and frustration for Nick Willis as he salvaged a Commonwealth Games bronze medal after missing the boat in the 1500m final.

On a rain-soaked Hampden Park track, Willis finished third behind Kenyans James Magut and Ronald Kwemoi as he pipped South Africa's Johan Cronje for bronze with a late lunge. Fellow New Zealander Julian Matthews was ninth.

It was Willis' third successive Commonwealth Games medal after gold in 2006 and bronze four years ago.

View Stuff's Commonwealth Games medal table.

The US-based 31-year-old was handily placed just before the bell, but got shuffled back as the sprint went on 200m out.

He was eighth at the 120m mark and stuck to the inside lane before hooking out and finishing with a late burst. Magut stormed past his compatriot to win in a slow 3min 39.31sec while Willis clocked 3:39.60.

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"I wouldn't say that I timed it right; I timed it wrongly and that's why I had a chance at only the bronze medal, not the other two. It was a relief hoping that I actually had salvaged a medal," Willis said after a long victory lap with the New Zealand flag.

"I went straight over to the South African and said 'sorry mate, you deserved that far more than I did, you ran a much more cagey and brave race'. It was only my fitness that got me to that medal, not any tactical nous or brilliance."

Willis said he should have learned his lesson from Delhi in 2010 when the pace didn't clap on till 200m out, rather than the 400m he was accustomed to. The Kenyans sprinted and Willis got boxed in.

"I'll watch the race with a huge amount of frustration thinking what could have been. I'm not saying I would have beaten those guys but you at least want to be in the conversation with 100m to go and today I wasn't.

"But you don't want to miss out on being on a podium and I'll be up there and see the New Zealand flag raised and add to the tally of such a fantastic [medal] haul."

Willis attempted the 5000m on day one of the Games and admitted that may have contributed to him feeling flat in the 1500m.

He looked comfortable in the heats and appeared a genuine contender but said he struggled to switch from fourth to fifth gear, and the longer distance and subsequent rest in recent days meant he wasn't as sharp.

"The 5km definitely motivated me. I committed to doing the two races but especially after London and the last two world championships I haven't performed to the best of my abilities and I didn't want it to become a habit, to not really live up to it.

"This was it, if I didn't do it today then I don't know how I would have coped emotionally going into Rio when there's a lot more pressure."

Willis' medal made it five for New Zealand at Hampden Park, after throwers Valerie Adams (gold), Julia Ratcliffe (silver) and Tom Walsh (silver).

Javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar finished fifth in the javelin final amid pouring rain. His 78.14m effort was his only counting throw, as Kenya's Julius Yego won gold with a distance of 83.87m.

In the women's 5000m, Lucy van Dalen had another disappointing run, finishing 13th in 15min 58sec, around 35sec outside her personal best. Kenya's Mercy Cherono bolted away with gold in 15:07.21.

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