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Exceptional Lamb smashes qualifying time

Liam Lamb [centre] is comfortable in his qualifying run in the 1500m. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED


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Wairarapa athlete Liam Lamb has smashed 5.60 seconds off his previous best to easily qualify for the 1500m in the World University Games.

Lamb had already qualified in the 5000m but needed a qualifying time in a second event to strengthen his chances of selection for the games to be held in Chengdu, China, in August.

He had come agonisingly close to beating the qualification mark of three minutes 48 seconds at Whanganui two weeks ago, so a special paced race was set up for Saturday night at Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, after the day’s competition in the North Island Secondary School Championships.

In the attempt, a fast time was superbly set up his pacemakers – national 1500m champion Julian Oakley, and national under-18 800m record holder James Hardin.

Liam Lamb shows off his PB and qualifying time.

Lamb’s time of 3.43.23 seconds was 4.77secs inside the games’ standard, and fast enough to rank in the top four times for the distance for a New Zealand 19-year-old.

“Just on research, and it’s a little bit hard because there’s not a definitive list that has ever been kept but talking to one of the gurus around the stats of the sport, we think that is the fourth fastest time by a 19-year-old in New Zealand history,” Lamb’s coach Mark Harris said.

“If you compare that to Nick Willis, he ran 3.42.69. Liam’s still got a long way to go, but if you can compare it to 3.36.00 for an Olympic qualifier, he’s only seven seconds off that, and if you talk about another four years of training, he can get there easily.”

Harris said that when the time is broken down into the splits, Lamb’s time is “basically bang on a four-minute mile”. The only 19-year-old to have run a sub-four-minute mile is Sam Tanner, who has qualified for the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics.

Adding even more merit to Lamb’s time is that conditions weren’t ideal for the race, after steady rain for most of the day had left the track sodden.

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