Nick Symmonds '06 placed fifth in the finals of the 800-meter run at the London Olympics. He's shown here at the U.S. Olympic Trials. (Photo courtesy Statesman Journal)
Symmonds earns fifth place in 800-meter final at London Olympics
LONDON — Willamette University graduate Nick Symmonds '06 set a personal record time at the London Olympics on Thursday, Aug. 9 while taking fifth place in the final of the 800-meter run.
David Rudisha of Kenya broke his own world record to win the Olympic gold medal in 1:40.91. Rudisha became the first person to break the 1:41 mark.
Nijel Amos of Botswana, age 18, claimed the silver medal in 1:41.73. Timothy Kitum from Kenya, age 17, earned the bronze medal in 1:42.53. Duane Solomon from the U.S.A. held off Symmonds to take fourth place in 1:42.82.
Symmonds registered a time of 1:42.95 to establish a new career-best. His time was 0.81 faster than his previous top time of 1:43.76, set in Italy in 2010.
Rudisha, who held the previous world record at 1:41.01, set a fast pace and led throughout the race. Several runners worked hard to stay close to Rudisha, while Symmonds held back. Symmonds, known for his closing kick, began to edge forward on the final back stretch.
Symmonds was battling Andrew Osagie of Great Britain for seventh as they completed the last turn. He pulled away from Osagie and went on to pass two more runners who were unable to sustain the pace set by Rudisha.
Mohammed Aman from Ethiopia placed sixth with a time of 1:43.20. Abubaker Kaki from Sudan was seventh in 1:43.32 and Osagie was eighth in 1:43.77.
Every runner in the race established a personal, national or world record or set a season best. In addition to Rudisha's world record, national records were set for Botswana by Amos and for Ethiopia by Aman. Kitum, Solomon, Symmonds and Osagie all set personal bests, while Kaki attained a season best.
It was the third time that Symmonds has placed in the top six in the 800-meter run at a major international competition.
Symmonds was sixth at the IAAF World Championships in 2009 and took fifth place at the World Championships in 2011. In addition, he reached the semifinals of the World Championships in 2007 and was a semifinalist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Symmonds has won five consecutive U.S. national titles in the 800.
As a runner for the Willamette from 2002-03 through 2005-06, Symmonds won seven NCAA Division III National Championships. He achieved four national titles for the Bearcats in the 800-meter run and added three national titles in the 1,500-meter run.
Thursday, Aug. 9,
2012 Olympic Stadium
Final — Men's 800-Meter Run
1 - David Rudisha (Kenya), 1:40.91 (World Record)
2 - Nijel Amos (Botswana), 1:41.73 (National Record)
3 - Timothy Kitum (Kenya), 1:42.53 (Personal Record)
4 - Duane Solomon (U.S.A.), 1:42.82 (Personal Record)
5 - Nick Symmonds (U.S.A.), 1:42.95 (Personal Record)
6 - Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia), 1:43.20 (National Record)
7 - Abubaker Kaki (Sudan), 1:43.32 (Season Best)
8 - Andrew Osagie (Great Britain), 1:43.77 (Personal Record)