Smit's time an Olympic temptation

A late surge by Christchurch 800m runner Angie Smit won't earn her a starting spot at the London Olympics, although athletics selection convenor Graham O'Brien does admit to being tempted.

Smit, 20, has been steadily lowering her personal best since first representing New Zealand at the world junior championships four years ago in Poland.

She hit form with a vengeance at Heusden-Zolder in Belgium over the weekend, finishing second over 800m behind Kenyan Beijing Olympics gold medallist Pamela Jelimo's winning 1min 56.76sec.

Smit's 2:00.76 is the third quickest ever run by a New Zealander, with only Tony Hodgkinson and Nikki Hamblin having gone faster.

It's also easily under the 2:01.30 B standard set by the International Amateur Athletic Federation for Olympic qualification.

But it doesn't quite meet the Athletics New Zealand standard, set at 2:00.00, with the tough proviso of demonstrating an ability to reach the top 16 in London.

"It's a terrific temptation," O'Brien told NZ Newswire.

"She's a nice girl, and so tough you wouldn't believe it."

O'Brien says he has no doubt Smit will continue to go faster, and holds real promise for future events such as the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Another encouraging performance at the same meeting came from New Zealand's 1500m Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis, who is looking increasingly sharp in the run-in to London.

He finished strongly for third over 800m to clock 1:46.18, close to his best ever 1:45.54, run at the same meeting eight years ago.

The race was won by Kenyan Abraham Kipchirchir in 1:43.15, with compatriot Evans Kipkorir second in 1:45.91.