Nick Willis in form for fast grass-track mile

Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013
Nick Willis
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
NICK WILLIS: The Beijing Olympic silver medallist will be seeking a sub-four-minute mile on the grass at the international meeting at Christ's College on Saturday.

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Nick Willis will be seeking a sub-four-minute mile on the grass at the international meeting at Christ's College upper field in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Beijing Olympic 1500m silver medallist has shown the form to break the magical barrier, with a mile time of 3min 58.09sec in Whanganui last Tuesday and a 3000m of 7:57.63 in Wellington on Friday.

Competition will come from Petr Kaminski of the Czech Republic, Australian schools 1500m and 3000m champion Luke Mathews, Aaron Pulford from Hamilton and Auckland's Ben Moynihan.

The previous New Zealand championship mile on grass was in 1969, when Dick Quax won the national title in 4:5.3 at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

Lucy Van Dalen will compete in the Brian Taylor Memorial 3000m against Susan Kuijken of the Netherlands, a triple medallist at NCAA level in the US college system. They have almost identical best 3000m times recorded indoors, Van Dalen with 8:56.77 in Boston two years ago and Kuijken with 8:56.27 in College Station Texas in 2009.

Rebekah Green and Rachel Kingsford of Otago, Rosa Flanagan and Nicki McFadzien of Canterbury and Wellington's Tina Harris have all clocked well under 10 minutes for the distance making it an interesting race.

Last weekend in Wellington Camille Buscomb (Hamilton) ran a brilliantly judged race to retain her New Zealand women's 3000m title after a tussle with 16-year-old Flanagan.

The two athletes ran together for much of the race before Buscomb managed to break away with 250m to run and went on to win in a personal best of 9:17.05. Flanagan recorded 9:21.86, also a personal best by 10sec and close to Sue Bruce's 1981 national under-17 record of 9:19.76.

Australian Zoe Buckman, a semifinalist in the 1500m at the London Olympics, who has a best 800m of 2:2.19, from September in Italy, is the favourite for the 800m. Also in the field are other top-ranked runners in the country this season - Ariana Harper, Pip Trevella and Kerry White.

Brad Mathas, of Whanganui, should follow up his 1:52.79 victory last year with another win in the men's 800m, where he will have competition from British schools champion Sam Petty. The two-mile handicap race will feature Hugo Beamish and Matt Baxter.

In the sprints, Anita Punt, London Olympics Black Sticks hockey player, should shine against Kelsey Berryman and Fiona Morrison. All three of them are also down to run the 300m.

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Sarah Cowley, also in the 100m, is down to compete in the long jump against Morrison and Berryman. Joseph Millar will compete against Nick Smith, of Scotland, in the 100m and against Alex Jordan in the 300m.

In the field events, Tom Walsh should prevail in the shot put, and Australian Damien Birkenhead could have the edge in the discus throw.

- The Press

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