Fatherhood, family life help renew Willis’ motivation
2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist preps for 2015 racing season with two 3:51 Miles and New Zealand indoor record
By Parker Morse for the IAAF
Nick Willis thought about retiring from athletics after the 2012 Olympics.
The silver medalist at 1500m in Beijing four years earlier, he arrived in London past his peak and could do no better than ninth in his second Olympic final and third Olympic Games. Willis wondered if it was time to walk away.
“It was like, ‘Am I still going to do this or not?’” Willis recalls. “I was 29-years-old, and I was very disappointed with what happened, and I wanted to make amends for that. Am I going to head into the business and corporate world, or am I going to keep sticking with this?”
One race into his 2015 campaign, it’s clear Willis’ answer was less of a surrender and more nailing his flag to the mast. After one of the best seasons of his career in 2014, where he set PRs at 1500m (3:29.91 in Monaco), the Mile (3:49.83 in Oslo), 3000m (7:36.91 in Ostrava) and ventured out to 5000m, running 13:20.33, Willis opened up 2015 by breaking John Walker’s long-standing Oceania record in the indoor Mile, running 3:51.61 for the win in Boston and beating multiple world indoor medalist Abdalaati Iguider in the process.
One week later, he improved the mark to 3:51.46 when finishing a close second to 2013 world silver medallst American Matthew Centrowitz at the NYRR Millrose Games.
“By turning my back to the options of off-the-track work, there’s no looking back,” he said. “It’s difficult to start climbing the corporate ladder at 31, 32. So I was like, I’m going for broke now.”
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