U-M Sophomore Runner Qualifies for Olympics

Wolverine sophomore <b>Nick Willis</b>, with a time of 3:32.68 in the 1500 meter race, qualified for this summers Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The time was the best of the season for Willis, and it earned him a spot on the New Zealand Olympic team.

Willis, who finished the race in 9th place, started off slow towards the back of the pack but relied on his conditioning to kick in for the final leg of the race. Sitting in the second half of the pack as the final lap bell rang, Willis took his running to another level, passing four competitors in the final 100 meters. Willis was able to beat his previous best of 3:36.24 by a strong 3-plus second margin.

"It was the best I had felt all season during my warm-up and strides," Willis said. "I felt really loose before the race."

Willis, who was given approval to miss the New Zealand Olympic trials, needed to match the ‘A' qualifying standard of 3:36.20 by July 14th to be eligible to run in the games in Athens.

Now that Willis has made the Olympic team he is ready to pick up training right where he left off.

"This is a big burden of off my shoulders. Now I can come back to Ann Arbor and get several weeks of training in before heading out to Athens. It will be back to hills and tempo runs and building strength."

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