19 Jul 2016

Track Veteran Nick Willis

4:44 pm on 19 July 2016

Nick Willis might be an Olympic veteran but he has shown he is still a force to be reckoned with in one of the glamour events on the track, the 1500m.

Mar 20, 2016; Mens 1500m Final, Nick Willis (NZL) during the 2016 IAAF World Championships in Athletics at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon, US.

Nick Willis in the 1500m at the 2016 IAAF world championships. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Rio will be the 32-year old Willis' fourth Olympics having competed in Athens in 2004, Beijing 2008 and London in 2012.

He sees Rio as the chance to make amends for a disappointing ninth place finish in the final of the 1500m in London.

He came into the London Games as the silver medallist from Beijing four years earlier but did not live up to his very high standards.

When named in the team for Rio, Willis said he felt a greater sense of purpose heading into his fourth Olympics.

"There's not really any of the distractions that come along with an Olympic Games... in my third one I was flagbearer so there was a lot of focus on that and I was still trying to figure my way at the first couple so [in Rio] it's just about getting down to business and trying to make amends for what I thought was a disappointing performance in London."

He has been in good form in 2016, finally enjoying some success at the World Indoor Champs where he won the bronze medal.

After being disqualified in his two previous tilts at a 1500m indoors medal he felt a sense of redemption.

"It was more a result of not running tentatively. When I got disqualified it was because I tried to pass people on the inside or conserve energy... this time I attacked the race and you're not going to have as many problems when you do that."

He has long been an outspoken critic of drug cheats throughout his career, never afraid to express his own views particularly after Beijing when he was initially awarded the bronze medal only for the initial winner Rashid Ramzi from Bahrain to test positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Willis said the success of fellow New Zealand track and field athletes, shot putters Val Adams and Tom Walsh, had helped motivate and encourage him to perform better.

Willis, however, could find himself chasing silver or bronze in Rio, as world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop has been in dominant form on the world stage this year and is the clear favourite.