Athletics: Willis content to prepare in Hong Kong

By Dylan Cleaver

Commonwealth champion 1500m runner Nick Willis is up against fierce competition in Delhi. Photo / File
Commonwealth champion 1500m runner Nick Willis is up against fierce competition in Delhi. Photo / File

He might be doing an athletics version of a hit-and-run, but Nick Willis is leaving little to chance, according to team coach Chris Pilone.

The defending 1500m champion has delayed his arrival in Delhi. He was due yesterday, but that was only after organisers had decided to shoehorn another round into the schedule.

When that round was deleted because of a lack of entries, it handed Willis the opportunity to spend more time training in Hong Kong.

Having been racing and training in the United States until recently, it was suggested that Willis would struggle to acclimatise to the heat and atmospheric conditions in the Indian capital.

Not so, said Pilone.

The defending 1500m champion has been training in extra layers of clothing to try to simulate the heat.

"It's a tip I first got off Lorraine Moller, actually," Pilone said.

"She used to train for her marathons in Colorado where it's quite cold. She'd put extra layers on then come in to wherever she was racing for a couple of weeks and she'd be fine.

"I used it quite a bit when I was coaching [Olympic triathlon champion] Hamish Carter.

"He's only doing the 1500m so it's not the actual acclimatising for the race, it's the warming up and warming down and you're in the atmosphere. If he was doing the marathon or something like that I would be a bit more concerned."

Pilone said genuine acclimatisation to heat took about a month, about the length of time 800m runner Nikki Hamblin has spent training with Paul Hamblyn in Hong Kong.

The athletics team started to arrive in the village on Monday.

They delayed their arrival for a few days after what Pilone termed general concerns about "health and the state of the apartments".

The track and field programme starts late tonight, with para shot putter Jess Hamill and 5000m runner Adrian Blincoe the first to don the black singlet.

There will be the expectation of medals but Pilone was refusing to make public any specific targets, if, indeed, there are any.

There will be plenty of interest in Willis' attempt to go back-to-back, though, with Beijing Olympic gold medallist Asbel Kiprop, of Kenya, in the field it will be a tough task.

Stuart Farquhar is a big chance in the javelin, while others like Hamblin are expected to be close.

The accepted theory is that the biggest impediment to Valerie Adams repeating her title from Melbourne will be the transport on the way to the Jahawarhal Nehru Stadium.

Pilone was yesterday set to embark on a reconnaissance mission of the main stadium today, with some concerns over the state of the track after the opening ceremony.

"Somebody told me that as long as they've got a track and dais they will be okay," he joked.

Decathlete Brent Newdick said he refused to worry about the conditions he will be competing in.

"It should be up to standard but I can't do anything about it," he said.

"Every single one of us is competing in the same conditions so it is about dealing with what it is, really."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Dec 2014 08:37:43 Processing Time: 1334ms