Nick Willis looking forward to quiet Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascot Miraitowa poses with a display of the Olympic symbol after an unveiling ceremony of the symbol on Mt. Takao in Hachioji, west of Tokyo, Japan, April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

Strict Covid-19 rules will kill the party vibe at the Tokyo Olympics Athletes’ Village and that is just fine for New Zealand’s veteran middle distance runner Nick Willis, who will relish some peace and quiet before competing at his fifth Games.

Athletes will check in soon before their event and check out quickly after to limit social interaction, which will stifle the partying opportunities for those who might prove a nuisance to their neighbours.

While no curmudgeon, 38-year-old Willis will not miss being woken by noisy athletes coming home after a big night out as he prepares for his tilt at a third Olympic medal in the 1,500m.

The lack of distractions could even lead to better performances in the track and field events, United States-based Willis said.

“I actually think people are going to perform at a really high level and a greater depth because there won’t be the same distractions that athletes from all the different sports face,” he said.

“Track and field, it can be quite challenging because we’re in the second half of the Games.

“So you get all the swimmers partying it up in the second week of the Games, and coming home from the parties at 4 a.m. outside of your apartments, making a hell of a noise.

“So there’s not going to be any of those distractions this time round so that will be quite nice.

“Some (athletes) walk around like they’re in Disney World and some are there like they’re there for business and business alone.”

It is pretty clear which camp Willis falls in to.

The clean-cut Kiwi became the oldest man to win an Olympic 1,500m medal when he claimed the bronze at Rio and he has not ruled out bettering that record at Tokyo.

“I would be the first to admit that would be quite a miracle if I were to be able to (medal) but once you’re in that position you forget about everything else and the adrenaline kicks in and your eyes light up and you get that taste for it again,” said Willis, the 2008 Beijing Games silver medallist.

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