February 19, 2016 / 10:49 PM / 3 years ago

Willis yearns for long-awaited Wanamker Mile win

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York has been a competitive home away from home for New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis, who feels it is about time he satisfied a long-held goal at the 109th Millrose Games on Saturday.

(L-R) Nick Willis of New Zealand, Homiyu Tesfaye of Germany and Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti cross the finish line during the ExxonMobil Dream Mile at the IAAF Diamond League at the Bislett Stadium in Oslo June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Jon Eeg/NTB Scanpix

Willis, 32, yearns to claim the featured Wanamaker Mile after many tries and near misses.

“I’ve been second twice and third twice,” Willis told reporters at a news conference ahead of the indoor meet. “I would absolutely love to win it.

“It’s the primary reason why I’ve come back. It’s been quite a busy year but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Who knows how much longer I’ll be running the mile.”

Willis, who won silver in the 1500 meters at the Beijing Olympics, is back at the fast Armory track for another mile showdown with Matt Centrowitz.

Last year the American won a thrilling, shoulder to shoulder finish in 3:51.35 that produced the two fastest indoor miles of 2015.

“I think this is my 18th or 19th time to the city in which I’ve raced 16 or 17 of those trips,” Willis said about being in the Big Apple once again. “It feels like home.”

Appearing on the track as a professional for the first time in his season debut will be Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, last year’s world bronze medalist over 100 meters and winner of a 100-200m double at the Pan Am Games.

“There are always expectations, but I can’t put much expectation on myself, this is my first meet,” De Grasse, 21, said. “I’ll just try and go out and have fun like I always do.”

Other big attractions at the meet include decathlon world record holder and 2012 Olympic champion Ashton Eaton, who will race the 60-metre hurdles and long jump, and four-time Olympic and nine-time world champion Allyson Felix in the 60-metre dash.

Molly Huddle targets the U.S. indoor mark at 5,000m against a field that includes Emily Infeld, the world championships bronze medalist, and Shannon Rowbury takes aim at the women’s U.S. indoor mile record as she tries to repeat her 2015 win.

Editing by Frank Pingue

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