Track and Field | Monday, June 30, 2008
Symmonds Wins 800-Meter Run at U.S. Olympic Trials, Qualifies for Beijing
EUGENE, ORE. -- Former Willamette University runner Nick Symmonds ('06, Boise, ID/Bishop Kelly HS) won the finals of the 800-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday, June 30 in a personal best time of 1:44:10 to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, later this year. Symmonds, running for the Oregon Track Club/Nike, claimed victory by nearly a second and was just nine one-hundredths of a second off the Hayward Field record.
Symmonds was in sixth place and appeared to be boxed in with about 100 meters remaining. Even so, he closed with the powerful kick that has been his trademark, as he worked his way forward on the outside then returned to the inside lane.
He won by 0.93 seconds over Andrew Wheating from the University of Oregon, who finished in 1:45.03. Third place went to Christian Smith of the Oregon Track Club/Nike, who clocked in at 1:45.47. Symmonds will be joined by Wheating and Smith on the U.S. Olympic Team in Beijing.
"I've been working on that kick for a couple years now," Symmonds said. "I just ran a smart race, and I knew that I was going to wait until the last 100 meters to flip the switch. It felt so good to burn it on the last 100.
"I was boxed in and couldn't sneak by on the inside," Symmonds added. "Fortunately, I saw the gap and got there just in time."
Khadevis Robinson of Nike, who won the 2006 and 2007 U.S. championships in the 800, finished in fourth place at 1:45.53. Lopez Lomong of Nike, took fifth place in 1:45.58.
The previous career best time for Symmonds was 1:44.54 at the 2007 Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field. Symmonds, who has been training in Eugene, was a local favorite to challenge for an Olympic berth. As it turned out, Willamette's former seven-time NCAA Division III national champion led a 1-2-3 sweep by runners with ties to the State of Oregon.
At Willamette, Symmonds won four national titles in the 800-meter run and three national championships in the 1,500-meter run. He helped the Bearcats earn four Top 10 team finishes in NCAA Division III between 2003 and 2006, including a tie for third place in 2004 and fourth place in 2005.