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With A Big Throw
Symmonds Qualifies for 800 Semis at World Championships

By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Statesman Journal
August 20, 2009
Nick Symmonds

BERLIN - Nick Symmonds made it safely through the first round of the 800 meters on Thursday morning here at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany. Running in the second of seven heats, Symmonds won his heat in 1:47.12, just edging out Belal Mansoor Ali of Bahrain and Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan at the finish line. All three runners automatically qualified for the semifinals tomorrow evening.

Also qualifying for the next round was American Khadevis Robinson, who placed third in the fourth heat in a time of 1:46.79. A third American, Ryan Brown, failed to qualify, as he finished fifth in the fastest heat of the day.

Canadian Gary Reed recorded the fastest time of the first round, 1:45.76. For Symmonds, the former Willamette University standout and current U.S. national champion, the first round was all about expending as little energy as possible while safely qualifying." I had to match all the moves down the stretch and make sure that nothing terrible happens," Symmonds said after the race. "I felt good enough. I made a couple of splurges that I didn't want to have to make. But that's the way you get through the rounds. I was in a good position with 100 to go."

Mattias Claesson

Going into the final turn Symmonds was challenged by Mattias Claesson of Sweden, who pulled up on his shoulder and started to edge past him in lane one. But Symmonds was able to maintain his position in lane one and, coming off the turn, surged into a clear lead. Ismail and Ali pulled nearly even with him in the final stretch, but no other runner was able to move up and challenge for one of the three automatically qualifying positions.

Symmonds said he appreciated the chance to compete in such a beautiful setting and stadium, which was originally built for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. "The stadium is one of the best I have ever raced in. It's beautiful. I like the layout. I love the free and open grounds around it that I can warm up in. The track is fine. I ran my PB on a track much like this one (in Monaco)."

The next round will be key for Symmonds, who has stated his goal this year is to make the finals here and put himself in a position to earn a medal. He also made the semifinals in the 800 at the 2008 Olympics but failed to advance to the finals.


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