Nick Symmonds backs gambling at track and field meets

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Nick Symmonds is at it again.

The Paris Hilton-dating, tattoo-sponsorship-displaying, beer mile-running U.S. Olympian offered a tip to improve track and field’s popularity while at the Edmonton International Track Classic on Saturday.

Gambling.

On the track, Symmonds, 28, edged fellow 2012 Olympian Duane Solomon in the 800 meters. Symmonds won in 1 minute, 44.86 seconds, .05 better than Solomon. It was Solomon who beat out Symmonds by .13 for fourth place in the blazing fast 800 at the London Olympics.

Symmonds complimented the Edmonton meet but believes the sport can do more to lure fans. Here’s what he told the Edmonton Journal:

“Look at Zurich (the Weltklasse meet on the IAAF’s major-league Diamond League circuit). I would argue that it’s the greatest non-championship meeting in the world. You walk in, you get a booklet with all the stats and odds for all the athletes. You go to (a betting kiosk) and put down (on an athlete) and you’ve got a horse in the race.

“Maybe you pick an underdog, and you’re cheering as hard for that underdog as you’d be cheering for (Jamaican superstar Usain) Bolt out there.

“Because, if you’ve got a little bit invested in there, it’s a lot more fun, carefree attitude. Let’s not make track and field this serious thing where you feel intimidated by the athletes, you’re out there haveing fun with them.”

In other notable results from the Edmonton meet, Lolo Jones took the 100 hurdles in 12.49, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir won the 200 in 19.90, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jeff Demps was third in the 100 in 10.02, all wind-aided times.

More tips from Symmonds:

“Pop culture has a short attention span and likes booze and gambling. Why don’t we give ‘em an abbreviated meet — like this meet is perfect. It’s two-and-a-half hours with something always going on.

“I’m about as diehard a track fan as you’re going to find and I don’t want to sit out under the sun for eight hours to watch a really slow, poorly run track meet.

“I certainly don’t want to do it on a Saturday afternoon without a beer in my hand.”

Study shows which colleges produce most U.S. Olympians

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Want to be an Olympian? Go West, young athlete.

An OlympStats.com study found that Stanford, UCLA, USC and the University of California were the top colleges or universities attended by the 9,000-plus Americans to compete in Olympic history.

Olympic historians Bill Mallon and Hilary Evans spent the summer compiling the statistics.

They found that Stanford had at least 289 Olympians, followed by UCLA with 277, USC with 251 and Cal with 212.

Stanford and UCLA tied for the most Summer Olympians with 280.

The most Winter Olympians? The University of Minnesota with 93, more than two-thirds being hockey players.

Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale dominated the early editions of the Summer and Winter Olympics.

But USC topped the list at every Summer Games from 1928 through 1964 (tied with Cal in 1948). UCLA’s run went from 1968 through 2004. Stanford had the most in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

In Winter Olympics, the University of Utah topped the 2002 and 2006 teams, followed by Utah’s Westminster College in 2010 and 2014. Many skiers and snowboarders who train in Park City take classes at those two schools.

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Andre Ward, last U.S. man to win Olympic boxing gold, retires

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Andre Ward, the only U.S. male boxer to win Olympic gold in the last 20 years, is walking away from the sport at the top of his game.

Undefeated. A world champion. Arguably the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.

“All I want to be is an Olympic champion. All I want to be is a world champion. I did it,” a voice appearing to be Ward’s said in an online video.

Today is the first day since 1952 that there are zero active male U.S. Olympic champion boxers. Claressa Shields, gold medalist in London and Rio, is now a professional fighter.

Ward, 33, ended his career without a loss since the age of 13 but said the cumulative effect of boxing for 23 years started to wear on his body. He no longer had the desire to prepare the way he used to.

“My goal has always been to walk away from this sport and to retire from the sport and to not let the sport retire me,” Ward, nicknamed S.O.G. “Son of God,” said on ESPN. “I have that opportunity today.

“I know it’s time. I’ve studied retirements. … How they walked away, who came back and all these different things. I’ve talked to a lot of guys, and they’ve always told me, you’re just going to know when it’s time. Nobody else will know but you.”

At the Athens Olympics, Ward fought in memory of his father, who died of a heart attack in his sleep at age 45, two years before the Games. He blew a kiss to the roof on the medal podium.

“In the second round, I got thumbed in my eyes, and I saw a double [vision],” Ward said on NBC after the gold-medal bout. “I never experienced nothing like that before.”

Ward turned pro and went 32-0, winning eight world titles.

His last fight was a June 17 TKO of Russian Sergey Kovalev to retain his WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles.

“I want to be clear – I am leaving because my body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport and therefore my desire to fight is no longer there,” Ward said in a statement on his website. “If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting.”

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