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Nick Willis Shares Uplifting Message After Breaking 3:30 Barrier in the 1,500

Just moments after running the fastest 1,500-meter race of his life, New Zealand Olympian Nick Willis shared a bit of wisdom applicable to athletes on every level.

Olympian from New Zealand: Nick Willis
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

“Championships are all about how you compete against others, but in this big, wide world and all the stuff that goes on, both good and bad, you can’t control what other people do,” Willis said.

Running at the 2014 Monaco Diamond League meet, Willis, 31, had just broken the 3:30 barrier in the 1,500. Finishing in a time of 3:29.91 was enough to make him break down and cry, he said after the race.

Willis has taken a long journey to his sub-3:30 1,500. As the silver-medal winner at the 2008 Olympic Games, Willis ran to a time of 3:34.16. Just two years later, in 2010, Willis underwent knee surgery and all the rehabilitation that went with it.

By 2012, Willis had found his way back onto the New Zealand Olympic team and was even elected the flag bearer. During the games, Willis qualified for the 1,500-meter final, where he finished ninth in a time of 3:36.94. He later called the performance embarrassing.

Things have turned around for Willis in 2014, though. In addition to running her personal best time in the 1,500, Willis has also clocked personal records in the mile, 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter.

And that accomplishment, he says, is why he runs.

“No one can ever fulfill that joy that you get out of seeing what you can do with the limits out there,” Willis told “That’s what it’s all about. Whether you’re trying to break two minutes in the 800 for the first time, four minutes for the mile or 3:30, it’s the same experience when that actually happens.”

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