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Nick Willis sets new NZ 3000m record

Published: 9:09AM Wednesday June 18, 2014 Source: Fairfax

Nick Willis has broken John Walker's 31-year-old national 3000m record as he continues to impress in the leadup to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next month.

Willis, 31, clocked 7:36.91 in finishing third this morning at the latest IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

In doing so he knocked 0.58 seconds off the mark set by New Zealand great John Walker, recorded in London in September 1982 - a year before Willis was born.

US-based Willis, the 2006 Commonwealth 1500m champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist over the same distance, lowered his personal best for the 3000m by 3.71 seconds, eclipsing his previous best time of 7:40.62 last July in Zagreb, Croatia.

Today's race was won by Kenyan Caleb Ndiku in 7:31.66 from Yomif Kejelcha, of Ethiopia, in 7:36.28. Kiwi Zane Robertson finished 14th in a new outdoor personal best of 7:50.89.

Willis now owned the 1500m and 3000m national records, while Walker had the 1000m, 2000m and mile records.

Last week, he set a personal best over the mile distance when clocking 3:49.83 to finish second behind world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman from Djibouti in the Diamond League Dream Mile in Oslo, Norway.

That time was just 0.75 seconds outside Walker's national mile record, also set in 1982.

Last week, Athletics New Zealand's track and field selection panel convener Graham Seatter insisted no pun was intended when he said Willis was '''arguably in the best nick he's ever been in''.

The Wellingtonian now returns to his base in Michigan to continue his preparations for Glasgow, where he will seek to win his third successive 1500m Commonwealth Games medal.

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