27 Feb 2011

Willis gets silver medal from Beijing Games

7:30 am on 27 February 2011

The New Zealand middle distance runner Nick Willis has become the first person to receive an Olympic medal on New Zealand soil.

Willis finally received his Olympic 1500 metre silver medal in Wellington after he was originally awarded the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 1500 metres, but was elevated to second after the winner, Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain, tested positive for a banned substance.

The presentation of the medal from Beijing was to have taken place at the now-postponed International Track Meet in Christchurch but instead happened at Saturday's charity meet at Newton Park, with proceeds going to the Salvation Army's Earthquake Appeal.

Elite athletes scheduled to run in Christchurch took part in the fundraising event, organised by Willis together with the New Zealand Olympic Committee and members of the Wellington athletics community.

Featured were the top United States miler Alan Webb, Britain's Lee Emanuel, sub-four milers Will Leer and Brandon Bethke as well as Willis himself.

The event's programme included the men's elite mile, men's 800 metres, men's and women's 1500 metres, a schools relay and the men's and women's long jump as well as Nick Willis' Olympic silver medal presentation.