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Nike
 
Anna willard United States

Quick Facts

Represents: USA
Age: 30 (March 31, 1984)

College: Brown University,

University of Michigan
Hometown: Greenwood ME
Residence: Loughborough, England
Affiliation: Nike
Coach: Terrence Mahon
Personal Bests:
800m 1:58.80 (2009)
800m(i) 2:00.84A (2010)
1500m 3:59.38 (2009)
One Mile 4:28.37 (2008)
One Mile(i) 4:30.69 (2009)
3000m SC 9:22.76 (2008)

5000m 15:53.36 (2007)

Career Highlights

  • Ranked #2 in the world in at 800m and #6 in the world at 1500m in 2009 by Track & Field News
  • 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final Champion, 800m
  • 6th, 2009 IAAF World Championships, 1500m
  • 2010 USATF Outdoor Champion, 1500m
  • 2010 USATF Indoor Champion, 800m
  • 2009 USATF Indoor Champion, 1500m
  • 2008 Olympic Trials Champion, 3000mSC
  • 2007 NCAA Champion, 3000mSC
  • Ranked #3 in the US for 2007
  • 2nd, 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, 3000mSC
  • 2007 University of Michigan Female Athlete of the Year
  • 2007 Big Ten Women’s Track Athlete of the Year

Background

Raised in rural Greenwood, Maine (population 802), where “people thought I was nuts running all the time,” Anna Willard was state high school champion in cross country and track (800m and 1600m). She was also a shooting guard on the basketball team, good enough to be recruited by a couple of Division III colleges. Track was her first love, though (“Plus I’m 5-3, what am I going to do in basketball?”) so it was off to Brown University to run track. A 2006 Brown graduate with a degree in environmental studies, Anna ran her first steeplechase as a junior, filling in for an injured teammate on just two weeks of training. She broke the school record in her first race. By the time she was finished at Brown, Anna would hold 10 school records (1000m, DMR (indoor and outdoor), 4x800m (indoor and outdoor), 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m) and was named 2006 All-Ivy First Team in the steeplechase and 4x800m.

But it was in her final outdoor season of eligibility, which she used at the University of Michigan while earning a master’s degree in sports management, that Anna really came into her own. After getting a chance to train through the cross country and indoor seasons, the new Wolverine broke the collegiate record in steeplechase on her way to winning the 2007 NCAA title. On her way to that triumph, Anna was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year after winning titles in the steeple, 1500m and 5000m and the top female performer at the Penn Relays for her contribution to NCAA records in the 4x800m and 4x1500m relays. Anna was also honored at Michigan’s 2006-2007 Female Athlete of the Year.

Just a few weeks after winning her NCAA title, Anna finished a close second in the US national championships to make her first World Championship team. “First I was so disappointed that I didn’t win,” said Anna, who was running on a left ankle she jammed in the semi-finals. “But then I reflected on it: I’m going to Worlds!”

In 2008, Anna moved up from her second place finish from 2007 US Championships, when she won the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2008 US Olympic Trials, breaking the American Record and securing her place at the Beijing Olympics. At Beijing, Anna qualified for the final, where she finished tenth. While most athletes might be perfectly content to simply be Olympians, let alone to be an Olympic finalist, Anna was determined to improve on her tenth place showing in Beijing. Following the end of the 2008 season, Anna moved to California and began training under Terrence Mahon, of the Mammoth Track Club. In her first race since moving to California, Anna won the USATF Indoor title at 1500m in Boston, and then returned to Boston a month later to win the Inaugural BAA Road Mile. It was at this time that Anna began to shift her focus from the Steeplechase to the unimpeded middle distances, a shift that was given more momentum following her surprise win over 800m at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, where Anna defeated a field of 800m specialists and lowered her personal best to a world-leading 1:59.29, her first time under two minutes. A week later, Anna ran another massive personal best, clocking 4:01.44 to finish fourth at the Nike Prefontaine Classic. Later that month, Anna returned to Eugene where she qualified for the World Championships in both the 1500m and 3000mSC.

After taking victories over 800m and 1500m in Paris and London, respectively, Anna decided to compete in just the 1500m at the World Championships, where she finished sixth in the final. Though an improvement on her finish a year earlier in Beijing, Anna still felt she could do better, and five days later, Anna ran 3:59.38 to finish second at the Weltklasse in Zurich, becoming the third fastest 1500m runner in US history. Anna finished her season with first place finishes at Brussels and at the IAAF World Athletics Final, both over 800m.