Nick Willis sneaks through to Men's 1500m final at World Athletics Champs after hotly-contested finish

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NZN

Double Olympic medallist Nick Willis lives to fight another day after stealing into the 1500m final at the world athletics championships in London.

Running in the second of two semi-finals, and with only the first five going through, Willis clocked three minutes 38.68 seconds in finishing sixth.

But he qualified for the final on Monday (NZT) as one of the two fastest finishers outside the top five in both semis.

"It didn't feel great, I think I'll enjoy having an extra day's rest before the final," Willis said afterwards.

"Hopefully I'll bounce back. The idea is that I'm improving every race because it's early season for me, so that's what I'm going to hang on to."

The Kiwi had looked comfortable sitting second going into the bell lap, but lacked his usual strong finish and was swamped in the final 50m.

"I just felt a bit over-extended and I was trying to relax but then a whole bunch of guys were coming," Willis said.

"I knew seven would get through from our semi but suddenly with 50m to go I could sense a big rush of guys coming and I just didn't quite have that extra gear so I had to muscle it in."

Kenyan Elijah Manangoi won the first semi in 3:40.10 ahead of compatriot and Beijing Olympic gold medallist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya (3:40.14)

The 34-year-old Willis had looked comfortable in finishing fifth in his heat on Friday (NZT), with the first six automatically qualifying for the semis.

Willis, who won silver over 1500m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is contesting his sixth world championships after making his debut appearance in 2005.

His best finish came in 2015, when he was sixth.

Willis's return from a post-Rio break was delayed by injury, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist posting his world championship qualifying time late in July.

He has a season's best of 3:34.74, but hasn't had enough track time or racing to approach his all-time best of 3:29.66 from 2015.

"I'll be giving everything I can for a medal, whether I can or not we'll have to wait and see," Willis said.

"But that's why I'm in the final, to give it a shot."

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