Willis through to 1500m semi-finals
Nick Willis (Photosport file)
Beijing Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis has snuck through to to the 1500m semi-finals at the world athletics championships in Moscow.
Running in the first of three heats, Willis finished a distant ninth in 3min 39.83sec.
The race was won by composed-looking Kenyan and Beijing gold medallist Asbel Kiprop in 3:38.15, with last year's London Olympics bronze medallist Abdalaati Iguider (Morocco) second in 3:38.41.
With the first six from each heat, plus the six fastest losers, qualifying for the semi-finals, Willis's chances of progressing looked faint.
But a slightly slower second heat, won in 3:39.41 by Silas Kiplagat, allowed a glimmer of hope with no one outside the top six faster than the New Zealander.
The third and final heat was won in 3:38.37 by Kenya's Nixon Chepseba, producing a mass finish as seven other runners clocked under 3:39.
However, Willis squeaked through as sixth-fastest loser, and will contest the semi-finals early on Saturday (NZT).
Willis, 30, has been working his way back to form after injuring his calf in May during the 1500m at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting.
He has been short of racing, his most recent effort after a three-month break coming with a solid 3min 56.57sec mile in Michigan two weeks ago.
He ran a personal best over 1500m in Monaco last year, clocking 3:30.35 to set break John Walker's 37-year-old New Zealand record.