A determined Nick Willis and the man who succeeded him as the Olympic Games silver medallist insist he can still be a future force in the 1500m.
After finishing ninth in yesterday's final of the blue riband middle-distance event, Willis rejected any suggestion he could specialise in the 5000m at the next Olympics in Rio.
"I thought about it earlier this year, but I'm still improving in the 1500 and to be competitive in the 5k, you really need to base yourself at altitude.
"That's not really something I want to do for my family and my own personal life," said Hutt Valley's Willis, who is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"And I'm still improving in the 15, just not today."
Willis did shatter his own New Zealand record by 1.44sec when he ran 3min 30.35sec to finish third in a Diamond League race in Monaco 17 days before the London Olympics final.
But plenty of metric milers have switched to the 5000m later in their careers, including at least two New Zealand Olympic finalists.
Willis - at 29 - was the oldest contestant in a race traditionally dominated by young men.
He was burned off on the final lap, unable to match the withering finishing kick of Algeria's new Olympic champion Taoufik Maklhloufi, 24, silver medallist Leonal Manzano, 27, and Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider, who won bronze.
It may even get tougher in Rio.
Only one 30-something has ever won the Olympic 1500m title - 92 years ago when 31-year-old Albert Hill clinched the 1920 crown in Antwerp.
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj was three weeks shy of his 30th birthday when he won in Athens in 2004 and Charles Bennett of Britain was also 29 when he took the 1900 title in Paris.
Willis will be 33 by the time the 2016 Olympics roll around.
New Zealand's last Olympic 1500m champion John Walker was 24 when he triumphed in Montreal in 1976.
Eight years later, Walker, at 32, ran the 5000m at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, finishing eighth in the final.
New Zealand hasn't had a major world-class 5000m star since Dick Quax won a silver medal in Montreal in 1976 and compatriot Rod Dixon finished fourth in one of the most absorbing duels in the event's history.
But Willis adopted a don't-look-at-me approach when asked if he might go up a distance.
He did indicate, however, that he wanted "to keep going for at least another four years".
"I feel that age often is given like a number. My opinion, is that people often end their careers because of financial reasons as opposed to actual age.
"They're starting a family and it's time to get a real job - those of us who can make a living off the sport tend to go on longer. Your body doesn't usually start regressing until 35 or 36."
Manzano - who beat Willis for the first time - said the Anzac Day-born Kiwi was "a fighter" who would bounce back from yesterday's setback.
"I love that guy, he's a great guy - Today was the first time I've ever beaten him, that goes to show he's legit," Manzano said.
"Of course, he had this surgery not so long ago - that he could have that surgery and still make it here shows how good he is."
Manzano was surprised Willis, the silver medallist in Beijing, and Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, who won the gold medal in 2008, did not feature on the London podium.
"You think about Kiprop and Willis. For sure, I thought they were going to be up there."