Nick Symmonds

Nick Symmonds wins silver in 800 meters, first major international medal (video)

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Nick Symmonds snapped a personal drought and an American drought with a silver medal in the 800 meters at the World Track and Field Championships on Tuesday.

Ethiopian favorite Mohammed Aman won in 1 minute, 43.31 seconds, passing Symmonds on the final straightaway. Symmonds grimaced crossing the line in 1:43.55, then poked his tongue out wryly. Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman got bronze in 1:43.76.

Symmonds, 29, in his fourth World Championships, won the first U.S. medal in the event at an Olympics or worlds since Rich Kenah‘s bronze in 1997. It’s the highest an American has finished in the two-lap race at a worlds.

“I think I’d prefer gold, and I did everything I could to get it,” Symmonds told Universal Sports. “I thought I had the gold until the last 10 meters. … I raced for the gold, and I’m happy with the silver.”

Adding in Olympics, it’s the best finish since Dave Wottle‘s hat-wearing golden run at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Both Symmonds and fellow American Duane Solomon were considered medal contenders as the top returning finishers from the 2012 Olympic final. The Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalists were missing from this year’s World Championships, including world record holder David Rudisha.

Solomon, the U.S. champion with the fastest time in the world this year, took the lead at 200 meters in Tuesday’s final and held it through 600 meters. Symmonds came side by side with Solomon at 400, taking the lead around the final turn before being passed by Aman.

Solomon faded to sixth place in 1:44.42.

Clearly, Symmonds’ pre-race strategy of taking a selfie and reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” paid off.

World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule

Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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