Nick Willis and Shalane Flanagan Highlight Reebok Boston Indoor Games, by Larry Eder

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The fourteenth annual Reebok Boston Indoor Games is going to happen this weekend! From 5:30 to 8:30, on Saturday, February 7, 2009, the Reggie Lewis center will be rocking to the sounds of elite athletes competing in the intimate indoor facility.

Two of the biggest draws will be the men's mile and the women's 5,000 meters. In the men's mile, we have Nick Willis, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 1,500 meters, looking for a great race and a shot at the Reggie Center's mile record. Shalane Flanagan, US record holder at 5,000 m eters, 10,000 meters and 3,000 meters indoors. She wowed the crowd here in 2006, taking Defar to the line over 3000 meters.

At the early afternoon press conference, here are some of their comments:

Nick Willis, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 1,500 meters is a student of the sport. He analyzes, analyzes and does it once again. His move in the 1,500 meters in both the Commonwealth Games in 2006, and his move in the 1,500 meters in Beijing in 2008, were supremely managed. That comes from lots of good and bad races, lots of training, and the Socratic dialogues, if one can use that, between Willis and his coach, Ron Warhurst, one of the few people in this world who coaches that rarefied animal, the male world class miler, with some success.

Nick Willis, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, 1,500 meters, New Zealand, photo by Photorun.net.

Nick Willis spoke about his experience at Millrose this way:

"I thought I came away very encouraged (from Millrose) for two reasons. It showed that my fitness is coming together in a lot of base- training type stuff and then I came through with the speed. Because I was disappointed I didn't win, it was actually something that made me happy. There's some irony in that statement. Because I didn't win I was happy that I was angry about it. It's the first time I really stepped into this kind of professional world and walked away not winning and feeling really frustrated about that. So that shows a good state of mind and tells you you're competing against the very best in the world."

On the pressure he puts on himself as a professional miler with an Olympic medal:

" I hope to win every race that I possibly can so when I don't win it'll give me a greater hunger for the future. That's what the goal is for this weekend, to come away with the impervious victory that happens in the professional world. They don't come every week. I'll be racing this weekend with that in mind as my first and foremost goal. I think Laban Rotich's stadium record is 3:53.18 I think, so that's definitely in the cards as well. That's something else I'll be running at as well."

And finally, Nick spoke about the differences in Boston from Millrose:

"Millrose is unique as they give you the spotlight as they call your name as you come around the track. But here they bring each of us out and you get to run down that straightaway in front of that crowd and it seems to erupt. It just gets you pumped up just before the start of the race. You try to relax and hold back the pace of the race, but you just can't help yourself because of the sound of the crowd. I'm definitely waiting for that the last couple of laps. I'll always remember when Alistair Cragg took down Kenese Bekele and the place just went crazy. I'd love for that to happen. There's a little bit of a rivalry going on between a guy named Alan Webb and myself. Not directly, but because of our affiliation with our university and stuff. Hopefully that will really get the crowd going."

Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters outdoors, and 3,000 meters indoors. Her bronze medal in Beijing over 10,000 meters, and her American record, was a revelation. Training with Erin Donahue, Shalane just hired a new agent and is looking for a new coach. She is currently training at altitude in Mexico with famed marathoner German Silva.

Shalane Flanagan, 2008 bronze medalist, 10,000 meters, Beijing Olympics

On running in Boston, Shalane had this to say:

"I think I'm addicted to running here at home. I think there's nothing more special than running in front of your family and friends and people who really genuinely care about you and your performances, so I'm really looking forward to Saturday night. I've had some good preparation down in Mexico training. I haven't done much speed, but I feel like I'm extremely strong. I hope that strength will carry over into some fast times."

Shalane, on breaking the 5,000m indoor AR:

"I don't want to take anything for granted, but I would hope, that since last summer we've done a lot of basically 15:10 back to back, that sneaking under 15:07 should be feasible. But like I said, I've only been on the track maybe two times for workouts. Both were good indicators that I would run sub 15:07 but I still have to go out and perform, there has to be some good pace making and some good competition. Overall, I just would like to come out and perform for my family."


The 14th-annual Reebok Boston Indoor Games begins at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College, 1350 Tremont St. Information is now available on-line at www.BostonIndoorGames.com, and tickets are available on-line or by calling 1-877-TIX-TRAC. USATF welcomes you to pay with your VISA.

For more on the sport, click http://. www.american-trackandfield.com

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