Athletics: Hamblin's 'perfect' race nets silver

Silver medalist Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand celebrates with her medal on the podium after the women's 1500 metres final. Photo / Getty Images
Silver medalist Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand celebrates with her medal on the podium after the women's 1500 metres final. Photo / Getty Images

Middle distance runner Nikki Hamblin ran what was described as a perfect tactical race to take silver in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

It was the first two silver medals for New Zealand at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, with decathlete Brent Newdick also getting on the podium.

Hamblin tucked in behind the leaders for the first three laps, sitting third at the bell behind two Kenyans in Olympic champion Nancy Langat and Irene Jelagat.

As the 12-strong field went down the back straight for the final time, she eased past Jelagat and for a moment challenged for the lead.

But Langat had enough in reserve to win by a reasonable margin in a Games record of four minutes 05.26 seconds.

Hamblin was able to hold off former world junior champion Stephanie Twell of Scotland, clocking 4min 05.97sec, just 0.04sec outside her personal best.

New Zealand athletics team coach Chris Pilone hailed Hamblin's race strategy, which she had formulated with training partner Paul Hamblyn, who finished fourth in the men's 1500m at the last Games.

"We probababy knew it would come on with 400 or 500 to go," he said.

"It was just a perfect race for her and the best possible result."

Hamblin, 22, first represented New Zealand at last year's world championships in Berlin and made the semifinals.

Pilone knew something special was on the cards after her performance yesterday.

"She had a good run in the heats and she said, 'I just jogged that'.

"I thought, 'Wow.' And she was very good mentally. We knew yesterday that she was in form."

While much has been made about the withdrawals in the athletics programme, Pilone said having the Olympic champion as the winner showed the field wasn't a weak one.

Hamblin's effort did take a toll, and she vomited after the race, something Pilone said wasn't unusual.

He admitted that the medal had come after a tough year for the pair.

"She's not the easiest girl to coach, she's pretty feisty," he said.

"She's a good competitor though.

"This year for both of us has been hard work. We've been at loggerheads a few times, but I've learnt to pull back a bit and not be judgmental and we've managed to hold it together for the last part of the year."

Hamblin will also be running in the 800m.

- NZPA

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