Commonwealth Games: Nick Willis still confident he will be a starter in the Gold Coast despite leg injury

  • 07/02/2018
Nick Willis is confident he can recover from his leg injury.
Nick Willis is confident he can recover from his leg injury. Photo credit: Getty

By Chris Forster

Nick Willis could still add to his medal tally for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

The 1500 metres specialist won gold in his favoured event in Melbourne 12 years ago, and went on to claim bronze medals in Delhi and Glasgow.

But the 34-year-old was fearing the worst when he started feeling pain in his upper fibula, and needed MRI scans.

Those scans revealed a stress reaction in his upper fibula.

"It's actually the best news I could hope for," Willis told Newshub from his home in Michigan.

"Had it been a tear or a stress fracture it would've meant a lot more time off.

"This gives me the possibility, it's not a guarantee, but a possibility of a shorter time away from running."

Willis has been putting all his energy and training into the event.

"You're on a knife edge. If you want to be the best you have to push yourself in training, and with that comes a lot of risk. 

"Everyday's a calculated risk ... how hard you push yourself."

His training programme has been affected, as the clock counts down to the Games in Australia, running from April 4-15.

With the 1500 scheduled towards the end of the meet, the final is on the last day of competition, it gives the Olympic bronze medallist plenty of time to make his hard work pay off.

"I've been working hard the last seven-months with that particular goal in mind.

"It is basically a home Games for me with it being in Australia."

The Gold in the Victorian capital in 2006 defined his career, and still shines brightly alongside his two medals at the Olympics.

"I really wanted another shot at getting to the top of the podium and hear the New Zealand national anthem again.

"(2006) was a very special moment in my career and to share that with my family and friends in New Zealand - that's what I have been working so hard towards."

"To represent New Zealand in Australia - it's always fun to try and beat those guys on their own turf."

Willis knows he faces a race against time.

"I have an amazing family - I am not going to complain for too long. Once you have an official diagnosis and a plan to work towards then you set new goals and that becomes your motivating factor."

He'll also be heading to altitude training as scheduled, despite not being able to fully train.

"We will spend two weeks in Bolder, Colorado and two weeks in Flagstaff, Arizona.

"I will still reap the benefits of the reduced air pressure up there and the challenges that your body faces with that, will help my cross training.

"I'll have to do a test two weeks before the games and then we will make an official decision then."

Although his plans to line-up in the 5000 metres as well as his favoured 1500, are now looking unlikely.

"I will keep it there just in case but at the moment it doesn't seem it would be to wise to overdo the training which is required for the 5000m to risk not getting to the start line of the 1500m," Willis told Newshub.

It could have been a devastating blow, but Willis has come to terms with a best-possible outcome to a potentially serious injury.

"I just want to get healthy.

"The hardest thing to me is wanting to go to the fridge and eat a ton of food. This isn't the time to let my guard down. I must remain disciplined despite the setback."