Nick Symmonds: Fastest Delivery in Town

By Nadene Steinhoff, Office of Communications, (503) 370-6274 and
Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, Ore. -- Olympic contender Nick Symmonds, who earned the top spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic 800-meter team, also offered the fastest delivery in Salem, Ore., according to Ladell and Gary McIlnay.

The McIlnays own Anderson McIlnay Florist, where Symmonds delivered flowers between classes and track workouts at Willamette University.

“Sometimes a late order came in after all the deliveries had gone out for the day,” said Ladell McIlnay. “The other employees had to go home, but Nick always said, ‘Sure, I can deliver that on my way back to the track.’ He has a huge heart. You’ll notice after he won the trials he leaped into the stands and hugged his mother. He’s one of the most polite young men you’ll meet.”

The McIlnays promised they would put up a window display in Symmonds’ honor if he made it to the Olympics, and sure enough, their downtown shop now features photos, newspaper clippings, balloons, flowers and advice, “Watch out Beijing. Here comes Nick.” There is even a scroll on the sidewalk, where townspeople can sign their names and send encouragement.

The McIlnays called Symmonds to let him know they had made good on their promised window display, reaching him just “in the nick of time,” Ladell said, as he was boarding his plane for Beijing.

Symmonds is not only a polite young man, he was a brainy biochemistry student at Willamette, writing his senior thesis on how mercury cations bind to the digestive enzyme chymotrypsin, causing the enzyme to unfold and precipitate out of solution. Symmonds hopes to be a doctor, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Written by Nadene Steinhoff in the Willamette University Office of Communications

Gary and Ladell McIlnay, former employers of Nick Symmonds, hold a scroll signed by fans of the Olympic qualifier at their Salem florist shop.

Gary and Ladell McIlnay, former employers of Nick Symmonds, hold a scroll signed by fans of the Olympic qualifier at their Salem florist shop.

One of the window displays at Anderson McIlnay Florist shows support for Olympic athlete Nick Symmonds.

One of the window displays at Anderson McIlnay Florist shows support for Olympic athlete Nick Symmonds.