Until he got caught doping, the medal had belonged to Rashid Ramzi.
It had taken New Zealand middle-distance specialist Nick Willis nearly three years to get his Olympic silver medal, and on Saturday night, the tears flowed down his cheeks. Willis, originally the bronze medalist in the 1500m event in Beijing, was given the silver due to the disqualification of Rashid Ramzi who failed a drug test.
However, medals aside, it was an especially emotional evening for Willis. Earlier in the week, the New Zealand city of Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake that left hundreds dead and injured. Willis had helped organize a track meet to raise money for the earthquake’s victims.
At the meet, held at Wellington’s Newtown Park, Willis won the men’s mile in 3:58.37, with his American training partners Will Leer and Brandon Bethke acting as pacemakers.
“They saw how emotional it was [receiving my medal] and they said, `Nick, we’ll take it for you, we’ll make sure you get your sub-four [minute mile]’,” recalled Willis referring to Leer and Bethke. “I felt terrible down the back straight but they took the wind for me.”
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