Willis struggles as cyclist flies

Sean Martin, NZ Newswire August 8, 2012, 12:03 pm

When 1500m runner Nick Willis needed it there was nothing there.

But for track cyclist Simon van Velthooven when he needed it, he felt a nation pushing him forward.

Willis, trying to grab another medal after his surprise silver at Beijing, was perfectly placed to grab a spot on the podium on day 11 of the London Olympics.

He had tracked the leaders through the first 1200m of the final but when the hammer came down from Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi there was no fuel in the tank. He was running on empty.

"When the going got tough, it was just a bit embarrassing," he said after finishing ninth.

Van Velthooven had to earn his bronze medal in the keirin the hard way.

Taking the longest route around the bank to the finish line the Palmerston North rider, competing at his first Olympics, thrust for the line.

"The whole nation was pushing me in that lunge," he said.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was more like five minutes, it was impossible to determine whether he or Dutch rider Teun Mulder had got third, so they shared bronze.

While that ticked all the boxes for tight finishes, the small matter of ticking boxes emerged as the reason why Valerie Adams' name was not on the original startlist for the women's shot put.

An Athletics NZ official had incorrectly filled out a form when submitting competitor names but the blunder was picked up in time to allow Adams to win shot put silver.

Silver is far from the minds of women's 470 sailors Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie after they won both races to lead the fleet in Weymouth with three races left.

Elsewhere, kayakers Lisa Carrington and Erin Taylor booked a place in the K2 500m final, windsurfer JP Tobin was seventh in the event's final outing at the Olympics and triathlon veterans Bevan Docherty (12th) and Kris Gemmell (15th) could do little to stop Britain's Alistair Brownlee scoring gold.

The Black Sticks men will play off for ninth after blowing a three-goal lead to draw 5-5 with Germany and the best result the men's 470 can hope for is bronze in their medal race.

Track cyclist Joanne Kiesanowski ended seventh in the omnium while K1 500m paddler Teneale Hatton missed out on her final.

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