Symmonds Wins Heat, Advances to Semifinals

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

BEIJING, CHINA -- Nick Symmonds '06 started his Olympic competition in successful fashion on Wednesday, Aug. 20, as he won his preliminary heat in the 800-meter run. Symmonds achieved a time of 1:46.01 to finish three one-hundredths of a second in front of Alfred Kirwa Yego from Kenya, who clocked in at 1:46.04. Symmonds and Yego both earned automatic berths into the semifinals, which will be held on Thursday, Aug. 21.

The field of 64 runners was reduced to 24 for the semifinals, with the top two runners in each of eight heats advancing, along with the next eight fastest times. There will be three semifinal heats, starting at 4:50 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. The 800-meter finals are set for Saturday, Aug. 23 at 4:30 a.m. Pacific.

Symmonds and Yego led Heat #4, with Antonio Manuel Reina of Spain taking third place in 1:46.30. Fourth place went to Andy Gonzales of Cuba at 1:46.59, while Mouhssin Chehibi of Morocco was fifth with a time of 1:46.75. Sixth place went to Eduard Villanueva of Venezuela at 1:47.64. Dinh Cong Nguyen of Vietnam placed seventh in 1:52.06 and Derek Mandell of Guam was eighth in 1:57.48.

Other automatic qualifiers were: Heat #1 - Wilfred Bungei of Kenya (1:44.90) and Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia (1:45.15); Heat #2 - Abubaker Kaki of Sudan (1:46.98) and Mohammed Al-Salhi of Saudi Arabia (1:47.02); Heat #3 - Michael Rimmer of Great Britain (1:47:61) and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa (1:47.64); Heat #5 - Manuel Olmedo of Spain (1:45.78) and Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan (1:46.02); Heat #6 - Amine Laalou of Morocco (1:47.86) and Abraham Chepkirwok of Uganda (1:47.93); Heat #7 - Mohammad Al-Azemi of Kuwait (1:46.94) and Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain (1:46.94); Heat #8 - Yeimer Lopez of Cuba (1:45.66) and Boaz-Kiplagat Lalang of Kenya (1:45.72).

The additional qualifiers for the semifinals were: Nadjim Manseur of Algeria (1:45.62 in Heat #1); Nabil Madi of Algeria (1:45.75 in Heat #8); Marcin Lewandowski of Poland (1:45.89 in Heat #8); Belal Mansoor Ali of Bahrain (1:45.95 in Heat #8); Gary Reed of Canada (1:46.02 in Heat #5); Sajad Moradi of Iran (1:46.10 in Heat #8); Reina of Spain (1:46.30 in Heat #4) and Fabiano Pecanha of Brazil (1:46.54 in Heat #1).

Symmonds was one of three Americans who competed in the preliminary heats. Andrew Wheating placed fourth in Heat #7 with a time of 1:47.05. Christian Smith took fourth in Heat #6 in 1:48.20.

It is not certain when the preliminary heats or the semifinals will be shown on television. The finals are scheduled to be included in NBC's prime time coverage on Saturday night.

Willamette graduate Nick Symmonds won his heat at the Olympics in the preliminary round of the 800-meter run.

Willamette graduate Nick Symmonds won his heat at the Olympics in the preliminary round of the 800-meter run.