Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi middle-distance runner Nick Wills confirms 2021 bid, turns 'amateur'

Two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis has confirmed he is committed to a fifth campaign at Tokyo 2021, but as an 'amateur'. 

The Kiwi middle-distance runner's career plans have been in limbo, after the postponement of the Games, originally scheduled for July-August.

Willis finished third over 1500m at Beijing 2008, but was later elevated to the silver medal, after race winner Rachid Ramzi was disqualified for a positive drug test. Nine years later, promoted champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya was also banned for drug offences, but retained his Olympic title.

In 2016, at 33, Willis became the oldest man to medal over 1500m, with a bronze at the Rio Olympics.

The 37-year-old recently pinpointed Tokyo as his international swansong, but the COVID-19 outbreak forced the International Olympic Committee to delay by a year.

That left Willis reconsidering his future and he has now announced his 2021 goals, including his intention to break a record set by one of his idols. 

On his Facebook page, Willis reveals he's working for US-based apparel retailer Tracksmith as an 'athlete experience manager'.

"I'm not retiring - I'm turning amateur," he writes. 

"I’ve still got big plans for myself on the track and challenging goals for the next few years.

"First up will be overtaking Sir John Walker’s sub-four mile streak - we are currently tied with 18 successive years of sub-four-minute miles. 

"I’m also targeting my fifth Olympics. It won’t be easy at 38, but in many ways, the extra year makes qualifying for Tokyo an even bigger and more worthwhile task.

"Starting a new career at Tracksmith will only help me achieve these goals. Not only will I get to broaden my career skillset, but having my income tied to my work, rather than my sport, means I can go back to my roots and compete like I did in my youth - fierce and intense out of love for the sport, with no expectation or pressure (except my own) on the result." 

Willis is also a three-time Commonwealth Games medallist, winning gold at Melbourne in 2006.