by David Monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
May 7, 2013
He’s won seven straight races so far this year, but Nick Willis sees the end of his streak is near. At New York’s Ichan Stadium on May 25, he’ll face the mighty David Rudisha in the men’s 800m, and accepts with a smile that victory is likely beyond his grasp.
“I think I won’t be offended if my streak runs out there,” quipped the 2008 Olympic silver medalist at 1500 meters through a blog entry this week.
Willis, 30, has impressive credentials at 800m, with a personal best of 1:45.54 set in Heusden back in 2004. But that mark is nearly five seconds slower than Rudisha’s amazing world record of 1:40.91 set on last year’s Olympic final. Nonetheless, Willis sees the upside of chasing the world’s fastest half-miler in the first of two stops in the United States for the 2013 IAAF Diamond League.
“To run against the world record-holder is something that I will be able to show my kids one day,” he said. “It’s also the closest guarantee for perfect pace-making, which means I can settle in and hang on for as long as I can!”
Indeed, a second place finish in this race would be a great achievement for Willis. He’ll be racing against top half-mile specialists, including former world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa, former NCAA champion Robby Andrews, reigning Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Kitum of Kenya, 2012 European Championships bronze medalist Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France, and 2012 World Indoor Championships bronze medalist Andrew Osagie of Great Britain. USA indoor 800m champion Erik Sowinski, who set an American indoor record at 600m at the Millrose Games, is also in the field.
In his most recent race, Willis kicked to a four-second victory at the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, one day before the Boston Marathon and the terrible bombing which followed. He gained a lot of confidence from that effort, feeling that he had finally shaken off the disappointment of his ninth place finish at the London Olympics.
“There’s something about winning [regardless of the time] that’s very satisfying, and it doesn’t come very often in our sport,” he said.