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
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
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."
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
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
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.