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Middle distance Heroes Confirmed for Christchurch Meet

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Middle distance Heroes Confirmed for Christchurch Meet

Kiwi heroes Nick Willis and Nikki Hamblin, 1500m medallists at the Delhi Commonwealth Games this year, will look to the International Track Meet in Christchurch on Feb 26th to kick-start their campaigns at that distance in 2011.

Willis, second in the feature 800m here in 2010, will headline the men's 1500m in an attempt to secure the 3min35s World Championships qualifying time early in the season. This will enable him to then focus on racing for the rest of the season, rather than chasing times. With a fast pace guaranteed by the organisers for that purpose, the usual host of local and international stars hoping to also achieve a fast time are expected to follow Willis to the meet. Willis said this week "I am excited to be returning to Christchurch for the ITM, to run the A standard for the 2011 World Championships. I have had a great deal of interest from international runners to come and join me in this race, so it should be a great chance to provide New Zealand with an international 1500m race again."

Hamblin began to make waves on the NZ scene in 2009, winning the 800m at the International Track Meet before going on to represent NZ at the World Championships in Berlin. She then burst to prominence in 2010 with a National record in the 1500m and her headline-grabbing pair of silver medals in the 800m and 1500m in Delhi. She will race the imperial equivalent of the distance, the mile - which still captures imaginations worldwide despite all other commonly raced track events now being metric - in an attempt on the 23-year-old New Zealand record of 4min30.5s held by Christine Pfitzinger of Auckland. Hamblin said this week “As I build from the (2009) World Championships and Delhi I plan to race sparsely over the coming New Zealand domestic season. The International Track Meet is the best meet in New Zealand and will give me the advantage to race on home soil and provides an excellent competition environment racing against the top Aussies and the likes of Hannah Newbould (World Junior Representative). When asked if she was targeting the NZ Resident or National record she responded “Not getting many opportunities to race a Mile I will be aiming high – I like to set high goals.”

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Hannah Newbould has also confirmed she will be attempting the 27 year old New Zealand under 19 national record held by Sue Bruce. Newbould ran her 1500m PB of 4.14:54 last July at the Victoria Track Classic in Canada and was the first kiwi home at the 2010 International Track Meet 1500m in third place.
Organisers say this is the first major announcement with many more to come, as they hope to showcase more of NZ's Commonwealth Games stars competing on home soil against top quality international opposition.

Footnote:
In addition to the action at the International Track Meet in the last two years, Christchurch has a long tradition in hosting top international class middle distance racing, including world records, fascinating duels, and monumental local upsets. For a history of middle distance running in Christchurch, go to Roger Robinson's excellent summary on the meet website, www.internationaltrackmeet.co.nz

Factbox:
Men's 1500m records
National record - Nick Willis, Wellington, 3min32.17, Paris France 2006
Resident Record - John Walker, Auckland, 3min32.52, Christchurch 1974
Allcomers Record - Filbert Bayi, Tanzania, 3min32.16, Christchurch 1974
Meet Record - Ryan Gregson, Australia, 3min41.69, 2010

Women's Mile records
National Record - Christine Pfitzinger, Auckland, 4min30.5, Oregon USA 1987
Resident Record - Anne Audain, Auckland, 4min33.93, Auckland 1983
Allcomers Record - Mary Decker, USA, 4min21.7, Auckland 1980
Meet Record - Kaila McKnight, Australia, 4min39.07, 2009
U/19 National Record – Sue Bruce, Canterbury, 4 min 37.89, Christchurch 1983

Women’s 1500m records
National Record – Nikki Hamblin, Cambridge, 4 min 05.93, Heusden 2010
Resident Record – Toni Hodgkinson, Auckland, 4.07.33, Wanganui 2000
Allcomers Record – Mary Decker, USA, 4.04.1, Auckland 1980

ends

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