Nick Willis successfully negotiated his heat of the men’s 1500m at the athletics track today.
The experienced Willis, who was the 1500m silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was in the third and last heat and stayed near the back of the field on the pole line for most of the journey.
He showed more interest about halfway around the final lap and in the home straight showed impressive strength when he needed it to slip into sixth place.
With the top six guaranteed of advancing to the semi-finals, Willis eased off but still finished in a quickish 3min 38.55s.
Willis, 33, is at his fourth Olympics, but still looks to have the speed to foot it with the other big names in his event.
The other two New Zealand 1500m runners did not fare as well.
Julian Matthews was ninth in his heat in 3min 40.40s and Hamish Carson was ninth in his heat in 3min 48.18s. Neither advanced to the semis. Matthews was 19th overall.
New Zealand had two runners in the women’s 5000m heats – Nikki Hamblin and Lucy Oliver. Hamblin made it into the final after a dramatic incident when she was one of three runners who fell early on. Though Hamblin finished well out of a qualifying position, athletics officials decided the fall was not the runners’ fault and all three were reinstated and advance to the semi-finals.
Oliver was 14th in her heat in 15min 53.77s, about 34 seconds behind the heat winner. Hamblin was 15th in her heat in 16min 43.61s, though after her fall the time was meaningless.
New Zealand pole vaulter Eliza McCartney gave her supporters heart flutters in the pole vault qualifying.
McCartney entered proceedings at 4.45m, well below what is is normally capable of. She missed her first two attempts. One more miss and she would have been eliminated.
However, it was a case of third time lucky at 4.45m. The had a miss and a success at 4.55m and was then over 4.60m first time to qualify for the final, a good effort by the rapidly improving 19-year-old.
Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Nicholas Willis Nikki Hamblin Julian Matthews Eliza McCartney Athletics