McCartney, Willis and Hamblin progress in Rio

By Athletics New Zealand

Eliza McCartney is through to the final of the pole vault, Nick Willis makes the semi-final of the 1500m and Nikki Hamblin added to final of the 5000m after dramatic fall.

McCartney overcame some first time Olympian nerves to qualify for the final of the pole vault with a first attempt clearance of 4.60m.

However there were some anxious moments in the earlier heights, selecting the correct pole and making 4.45m on her third attempt, then needing a second attempt to clear 4.55m.

The automatic qualifying height was 4.60m or at least the 12 best performers. McCartney was one of seven who were over the bar at 4.60m with the remaining five coming into the final having achieved 4.55m.

In a drama packed second heat of the 5000m Nikki Hamblin was accorded a place in the final after a tumble shortly after half way which also brought down American Abbey DAgostino. They helped each other to their feet and bravely completed the distance. Following a review of the race both were given a place in the final.

Hamblin said that it all happened so fast.

"One minute Im on my feet theres some jostling in front and then I go down and the girl behind me went down and Im better off than her, shes pretty badly hurt and Im so thrilled that she finished because she kind of picked me up off the ground, saying weve got to keep running.

Abbey DAgostino from USA an awesome girl and we should cheer for her. Im pretty sure it wasnt my fault something happened in front of me to cause that," said Hamblin after finishing the race.

"It was a lonely five or six laps, youre running pretty slow because you know you just have to finish," she added.

It was a last minute decision before scratching had to be declared that Hamblin gave herself a tick to start.

"Im proud of myself to come back and run this race after the 1500m, I was that close to not running."

Lucy Oliver, New Zealands other 5000m runner finished 14th in the first heat in 15:53.77, missing making the final by 29 seconds.

Nick Willis was the only New Zealand 1500m runner to make it to the semi-finals of the 1500m. Julian Matthews was just one place and 0.36s shy of making it and Hamish Carson drew the slowest heat and finished eighth in 3:48.18.

Matthews was first up in heat one and was well placed leading into the final lap. He worked hard in the finishing straight but couldnt match the leg speed of those in front finishing ninth in 3:40.40.

Matthews said he felt fine going into the race.

"It felt alright, I felt I ran a good race tactically I just didnt have it there for the final kick down the home straight. I was in touch all the way so its just disappointing to finish that way.

"Its a real honour to be wearing this black singlet alongside Hamish and Nick were all very close and its been a special year for 1500m and I hope we can continue with it and bring more guys in as well," he said.

Carson said it was an amazing experience to be at an Olympic Games for the first time.

"Just didnt manage to get in that top six unfortunately. I put myself in a good position and then with about 500m to go I got a bit boxed in and had to work a bit too hard coming around with a lap to go. I didnt have it done down that home straight unfortunately. Im really stoked to be here, its an amazing atmosphere," said Carson.

Willis was in the third heat and kept out of trouble over the first three laps running at the rear of the field. When the pace went on down the back straight for the last time Willis moved into a striking position and down the home straight an opening appeared and he neatly slotted into a qualifying sixth place in 3:38.55.

Willis was straight off the track and swiftly through the mixed zone.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Athletics New Zealand

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 11 Dec 2016 20:49:50 Processing Time: 826ms