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Willis breaks four again in Wanganui mile

Published: 6:58AM Wednesday January 23, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

New Zealand's top middle-distance runner Nick Willis showed he is still king of Kiwi milers with an emphatic victory in the main event at the Cooks Classic in Wanganui last night.

Willis ran a controlled, smooth race to record 3m 58.09s to produce the 59th sub-four minute mile at the track that saw Peter Snell run the first fifty one years ago when he set the world record.

Willis was lead around the track for the first two-and-a-half laps by national 800m champion Brad Mathas, right on the required schedule. After Mathas dropped out, Willis picked up the pace and finished with a scintillating 56-second last lap to go comfortably under the iconic barrier.

Australian Matthew Coloe followed Willis for as long as he could, before drifting off the pace and finishing second in 4m 07.43s, while Jono Jackson chased down tiring English athlete Sam Petty for third in 4m 14.17s.

Hometown hero Lucy Van Dalen's first race in New Zealand since her Olympic success in London last year didn't disappoint the big local crowd in the women's mile. She hit the lead from the gun and ran away from the field.

Van Dalen hit the finish in a smart 4m 36.07s, well ahead of a fast-finishing Camille Buscomb at 4m 43.86s and Rosa Flanagan 4m 44.55s.

Pole vaulters also featured at the meeting, with Eliza McCartney clearing a New Zealand under-17 record of 4.01m and team-mate Nick Southgate almost beating his own under-19 record of 5.10m, coming up just 10 centimetres short.

Te Rina Keenan confirmed her position as New Zealand's second-best ever female discus thrower, setting a new best of 58.25m - only former world champion Beatrice Faumuina has thrown further. World junior champs fourth placegetter Tina Hakeai was not far off her best, throwing 56.19m.

National champion Joseph Millar was made to work hard in the 100m, having to come from behind to beat Isaac Tatoa, 10.55s to 10.63s.

Michael Cochrane and Cameron French has a classic battle in the 400m hurdles, with French running a personal best of 51.23s behind Cochrane's 51.06s. Zoe Ballantyne won the women's race in a personal best 60.85s.