Track Town favorite Symmonds advances to semis in 800

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By Dr. Bob Elliott

BEIJING -- Nick Symmonds of Springfield, Ore,, the 2008 Olympic Trials 800m champion, advanced to the semi-finals in a perfectly executed race that had fans sitting on their edge of their seats. 

Symmonds remained in the middle of the pack for most of the race, then used his well-known “kick” to surge in the last 100 meters and win his heat in 1:46.01.

Symmonds looked relaxed and confident in his first Olympic outing and appears well prepared for the next round of competition.

Immediately following the race Symmonds stated, "It was exactly what I wanted in the first round. I haven't raced in seven weeks, so there is always a little bit of a question of am I going to get out and feel good or am I going to feel flat. I tell you what, I felt real good.”

The two remaining Eugene team members, Andrew Wheating, a student at the University of Oregon, and Christian Smith, Oregon Track Club,  whose lack of experience in international meets may have hampered their performance, failed to advance.

Wheating is the first UO undergraduate student to compete in the Olympic Games since Matt Centrowitz (1976) finished in 4th place in his heat (11th overall) with 1:47.05. 

Smith finished in 1:48.20 for a 6th place finish in his heat (43rd overall). 

Rumor has it that the Chinese television station, CCTV, was in Eugene yesterday.  They shot film of a workout session and interviewed some of the Oregon Track Club (OTC) team members.We will monitor the Beijing CCTV stations for the interviews/films. 

Matt Tegenkamp (Madison, Wisc.) ran with confidence in the 5000m.  His hard-fought win in a time of 13:37:36 was the fastest qualifying time of the day.  Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Ariz.) regained his composure for his 5000m heat after a devastating failure to qualify for the finals of the 1500m contested earlier during this week — a race that he had proclaimed would be his priority. 

Hopefully, he has regained his self-confidence and will medal on Saturday evening.

By the way, in case you haven’t heard (highly unlikely), Usain Bolt (Jamaica), blazed into track history with a World Record in the 200m on the eve of his 22nd birthday. 

He set a World Record in the 100m last Saturday. 

The results of the 200m were complicated by protests filed immediately after the competition. Churandy Martina (Netherlands Antilles) finished in second place and Wallace Spearmon (Fayetteville, Ark.) took third. 

As Bolt crossed the finish line the crowd cheered and applauded wildly. The celebration continued as the winners took their victory lap.  A pre-recorded version of “Happy Birthday to You” blared over the speakers repeatedly while Bolt basked in the limelight.

While the winners acknowledged the adoring crowd, IAAF officials reviewed videotapes and determined that Spearmon had run on the line resulting in his disqualification (DQ).  U.S. officials protested the DQ, but after reviewing the videos, accepted the officials’ decision. 

After their review, U.S. officials pointed out that the video showed Martina running on the line, which then resulted in his DQ. The disqualifications moved Shawn Crawford (19.96) up to the Silver and Walter Dix (19.98) into Bronze medal status.

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