Athletics: Hamblin calm in 1500m bid for glory

By Dylan Cleaver

Nikki Hamblin set the national 1500m record of 4m 05.93s this year. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Nikki Hamblin set the national 1500m record of 4m 05.93s this year. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

NEW DELHI - Middle-distance races at major meetings tend to be cagey affairs.

With no pacemakers in the field and runners wary of making a mistake, the times tend to be slower, opening up the possibility of an upset.

That could suit Nikki Hamblin, but the Cambridge runner refuses to fall into the trap of guessing how the last lap of her 1500m will play out before she gets there.

"I'm focusing on the heat and if I do well in the heat, I'll get in the final. In the final it's just about putting myself in the best position I can and see what happens," Hamblin said.

"I've pretty much prepared along the lines of anything can happen. It's all you can do because you can't predict what anyone else is going to do. It's going to be hot, so that might be a factor and slow things down, but I really don't want to think too hard about how it might be because if it's not like that I don't want to be thrown off my race.

"We'll just see what happens when we get out there."

The Dorset-born runner begins her quest for 1500m glory today, though not in a singlet she would have ever imagined wearing as a youngster growing up in England's south.

Hamblin ran for England schools when she was a teenager but was on the point of abandoning her athletics career until a timely intervention.

"When I was 16 I had heaps of injuries, so I was pretty fed up with it by the time I got to New Zealand. I just thought, 'I'm not going to run, I'm not going to worry about it'," she said.

"I met Chris [Pilone], who said I might have a bit of potential as an athlete. He said he'd coach me."

Which goes only a small way to explaining how she ended up being in the same country as Pilone in the first place.

"I finished school when I was 18 and was like, 'What do I really want to do now?' I was kind of interested in university but didn't know what I wanted to study.

"I just wanted to enjoy myself and have a gap year. My uncle and aunty live in Cambridge, so I decided to spend a bit of time with them. I met my boyfriend, he was living in Cambridge so here I am."

Hamblin achieved residency last year, representing New Zealand at the world champs in Berlin, her first major meeting in a black singlet.

As good as the experience was, this has been a better year. During the European season she set the national 1500m record of 4m 05.93s, bettering Toni Hodgkinson's 10-year-old record by 0.3s.

"It was better this season because I knew what to expect. I'd been there and done it before, so it was not as stressful. I didn't have to do all the residency-citizenship stuff. I knew where I was at and knew what my goal was, which was the Commonwealth Games, so I was always working towards it."

The 22-year-old has spent the past month in Hong Kong, getting used to the conditions she can expect to face in Delhi.

"It was just nice to be somewhere different and also to have Paul Hamblyn to do all my training with was pretty good. He obviously knows what he's doing.

"It was definitely a good choice, especially acclimatisation wise. It's 30 degrees out there and it doesn't feel too hot to me."

- NZ Herald

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