Nick Willis cruises home in Capital Classic 800m

TOBY ROBSON AT NEWTOWN PARK
Last updated 20:35 24/01/2014
Nick Willis
Fairfax NZ
EASY AS: Nick Willis cruised to victory in Wellington.

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Nick Willis has cruised to victory in the 800m at the Capital Classic in what he said was a test run for a new tactical approach to the up-coming world indoor championships in Poland.

Wearing a Wellington-yellow singlet, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist started slowly before breezing past pace-setter Brad Mathas on the home straight in front of about 1000 fans.

A barely out of breath Willis said after the race he'd dropped down from his preferred distance in a bid to test his speed over the final stages of the 1500m.

"We've got the world indoor champs coming up in six weeks and traditionally it's quite a tactical race with the last 600m being really fast," he said. "Doing an 800m is a bit of a shock to the system to remember how to sprint again.

"I was out of the gate pretty slow because I've been working on endurance. You can run a good mile on endurance training, but there's no better way to for get your speed going than doing a race."

His time of 1m50.04s was on a par with his last competitive 800m race last year, but well short of the personal best of 1m45.54s set in Belgium in 2004.

"Anything around that 1.50 range is fine... today was more about the benefit of doing the training and also getting to run in front of my friends and family as well.

"It wasn't easy. I was happy to hold my form, but most importantly as I crossed the finish line although my legs were knackered I was able to regain my breath quite quickly."

Willis, who later ran as a pace-maker in the 3000m, said his extra attention to tactics is partly because last time he ran at the world indoor championships he was bumped off the track and disqualified.

"Maybe getting to the front is a better strategy on the indoor track where there's no wind," he said. "I know my strength was there. It was more a matter of if I went out too hard, I just haven't done the training to handle that early pace. My coach wanted me to run negative splits, which means the second lap's faster than the first and we were probably pretty spot on to doing that so it worked out."

Willis said his focus on the world indoors was partly to stop himself from thinking too far ahead to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year.

"I try not to look too far ahead. It's just nice that there's the world indoors to sort of take my mind off of Glasgow till around April comes and it all fits in with my plan anyway and it'd mean a lot to get on the podium at a world level again."

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Willis also revealed a big development off the track with a new sponsorship deal with Adidas taking him through to the next Olympic Games.

- Fairfax Media

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