Nick Willis lost his Commonwealth Games 1500m crown this evening when he finished third in a hard-fought final.
Willis, New Zealand’s big-name middle-distance runner, won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was one of the glamour figures of the Delhi track and field meet.
However he has just emerged from an injury-hit season and wasn’t sharp enough to match Kenyans Silas Kiplagat and James Magut in the final straight today.
The New Zealander ran well tactically, hugging the pole line, but Kiplagat was too strong in the closing stages.
Kiplagat has been one of the form runners on the world circuit and has the fastest 1500m time of the season.
It seemed as if Willis might run down Magut, but the New Zealander weakened over the final 50 metres. Kiplagat’s time was 3min 41.78s. Willis crossed the line in 3min 42.38s.
The second New Zealander in the final, Adrian Blincoe, was 10th.
Willis said afterwards that in view of his limited training he was pleased to come away with a medal. "I had high hopes but realistic expectations, anywhere from first to sixth was a possibility," he said.
"The quality of the field was stronger than Melbourne. Guys fell over there and Kenya did not send its best team.
"Kenya sent almost their best team here. Kiplagat's got the fastest time in the world this year, which is faster than my best ever by three seconds.”
Meanwhile Waikato javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar of Hamilton threw 78.15m to grab a silver medal, a big improvement on his seventh placing at the 2004 Commonwealth Games.
Farquhar was well down on his season’s best, which is in excess of 85 metres, but in less than ideal conditions, he was good enough to finish second to Australian Jarrod Bannister, who was well clear with 81.71m.