Nick Willis, sprints headline the Capital Classic

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Nick Willis
Getty Images
STAR ATTRACTION: Nick Willis.

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Polevault makes a welcome return and there will be significance to the 100m relay, but Nick Willis will again be the main attraction at the Capital Classic at Newtown Park tonight.

Willis will follow up his sub four-minute mile in Whanganui on Monday evening with a rare outing over 800m in Wellington.

A year after setting the meet record in the 3000m, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist will be out to better the 800m time of 1.48.93 run by Gareth Hyett in 2007.

Willis is well capable with a personal best of 1:45.54 though that was set in Belgium more than nine years ago.

His last race over 800m was in February last year in Palmerston North where he ran 1:49.04.

Willis' main competition will come from Brad Mathas, the New Zealand champion for the past two years, and in form after running a personal best time of 1:49.17 in Australia last weekend.

Willis' absence from the longer 3000m takes some of the gloss off the men's field, but the women's race promises to be a hotly contested battle between Commonwealth Games double silver medallist Nikki Hamblin and Camille Buscomb.

Buscomb has won the national 3000m title for the last two years, while Hamblin was the champion in 2011.

But it may be the sprints that steal the show with the New Zealand men's and women's 4 x 100m relay teams attempting to meet the Glasgow Commonwealth Games qualifying time.

For the men that stands at 39.5s, while the women will have to dip under 45s without top gun Monique Williams who is currently overseas.

National sprint champion Joseph Millar is favoured to continue his unbeaten season in the men's 100m and 200m and likely to anchor the relay.

And polevault makes a return to Wellington after several years absence and features up and comers in the men's and women's fields.

Pascal Kethers and Eliza McCartney have already respectively reached the qualifying heights for the world junior championships this season.

Kethers cleared 5.10m at the schools championships and McCartney was over the bar at 4.10m at the same meet in Whanganui on Monday.

In the field events Ben Langton-Burnell with a best of 71.72m steps out for the first time this season in the javelin throw.

Siositina Hakeai and Te Rina Keenan challenge each other in the discus, while Liz Lamb and Sarah Cowley are the top ranked athletes in the women's high jump.

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- Fairfax Media

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