INDEPENDENT NEWS

Willis Accepts Challenge from Worlds Fastest Miler

Published: Wed 24 Dec 2008 10:56 AM
Willis Accepts Challenge from Worlds Fastest Miler
Christchurch will host an International Track and Field meeting on Friday the 13th of March 2009. New Zealand athletes Valerie Villi and Nick Willis made history at the Beijing Olympics claiming Gold and Bronze medals in the jewel of the games the Track and Field. This made Beijing the most successful Olympic campaign by kiwi athletes at the track since John Walker and Dick Quax medalled at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
This Black Friday event is shaping up to provide a rare opportunity to watch some of the best athletes in the world do battle during two hours of the best athletics you are likely to see live in New Zealand. The feature race, the men’s international invitational Mile has the potential to be the fastest Mile ever run on New Zealand soil. To achieve this huge feat, the foot soldiers will have to better John Walker’s New Zealand Resident and All Comers National record (3 minutes 50.6 seconds) set in Auckland back in 1981. In addition to the prize money on offer, a bonus will be paid for breaking John Walker’s record. The “Black Singlet” will be represented by our own Nick Willis, our second fastest all time Kiwi miler. Willis has successfully continued the long tradition of Kiwi Milers taking on the world that was started with Jack Lovelock and cemented by greats Peter Snell and John Walker.
Despite Willis’s impressive resume he won’t have the race all his own way as he takes on the challenge from the world’s fastest miler this year Andrew Baddeley. Meet organisers are also confident of having several other nations represented to make this field truly international with elite athletes likely from Canada, Australia, Ireland and Great Britain.
Athletics Canterbury have secured the services of Andrew Baddeley (United Kingdom) who will return to New Zealand for the second time in March 2009. In 2007 Baddeley won the Mayoral Mile Race in Wanganui when he defeated Gareth Hyett, New Zealand’s 13th fastest all time miler. Baddeley ran the world’s fastest time for the Mile in 2008 when he won the Dream Mile (3:49.38, Oslo Golden League, Bislett Stadium). Baddeley finished 9th in the Beijing Olympics 1500m and placed 9th at the 2007 World Track and Field Championships in front of Willis who finished 10th.
Willis claimed John Walkers 30 year old national 1500m record (3:32.4 set in Oslo in 1975) when he ran 3:32.38 in 2005 before lowering it to the current National Record of 3:32.17 (set 8th of July 2006), 24 years and 1 day after John Walker set the current New Zealand mile record of 3:49.08 (9th July 1982, Oslo). Willis and his wife Sierra are based in Michigan and will be providing the New Zealand public with a rare opportunity to watch him race against world class opposition alongside New Zealand’s best milers.
This international track meeting at QEII Stadium will also feature Aranui High Schools acclaimed Jazz Band along with showcasing New Zealand’s best athletes through the full spectrum from top Colgate Games relay teams, Secondary schools mile relay challenge and our top Paralympics athletes building towards the 2010 IPC World Championships. This is sure to be an evening’s entertainment that you won’t forget. Tickets go on sale in January 2009.
The Mile
3:49.08 - John Walker – NZ National Record
3:50.6 - John Walker – NZ All Comers Record
3:50.6 - John Walker – NZ Resident Record
3:49.38 – Andrew Baddeley - Personal Best
3:50.66 – Nick Willis - Personal Best
ENDS

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