THE SKEPTICS SAID he’d never break 1:43 for 800 meters, but Nick Symmonds defied all expectations in London.
In the fastest 800-meter race ever, Nick Symmonds set a new personal best and became the third-fastest American half-miler in history. After battling with the world’s best in the preliminary and semifinal races, Nick and American teammate Duane Solomon pushed Olympic champion David Rudisha to the edge as he broke his own world record on the fast London track in the 800-meter final.
“It’s going to go down in history as the greatest 800-meter ever,” Nick said after the race. “I ran as hard as I could; I can smile about that.”
Nick, who the pundits said would never break 1:43, smashed his own personal best and claimed a 1:42.95 in front of a roaring crowd at the Olympic Stadium. His time would’ve earned a gold medal in every previous Olympics except Atlanta in 1996. “People always talk about proving your doubters wrong,” Nick says. “[Olympian Matt Tegenkamp] said it the other day: ‘I don’t want to prove my doubters wrong; I want to prove my supporters right.’ That’s what I want to do. I have such an incredible fan base, and I want to go out there and do what they say I can do. I want to prove them right.”
The race came just a month after Nick, relying on his trusted regimen of Melaleuca products, broke the tape for his fifth U.S. outdoor title at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., ahead of a stacked field of up-and-comers.
Earning the Dream
In his preparation for the games, Nick dedicated months to a steady routine of 70-mile running weeks (much of that on the track), 6,000-calorie days, twice-a-week strength sessions and twice-a-week recovery swims.
“The training’s tough, and the nerves are tough, and there are some very tough moments that come along with competition,” Nick says. “But competition’s easy. You just show up and do your job. You spend every single day, year after year, training to do that.”
Over the last two years, Nick optimized his long-term racing strategy to bring him peak results when it counts—at the world championships and the Olympics. In early 2011, he left the chilly northwest United States and trained in comfortable climes in Australia. When that recipe brought speed throughout the year, Nick calibrated 2012 to follow the same format.
“You get maybe one or two races where you’re really on fire,” Nick says. “And if you do it right, you time it for when you need it.”
After spending a few winter weeks in Australia again this year, Nick went back to Oregon and then left for Flagstaff, Ariz., for altitude training. Breathing easier from the mountain altitude, Nick returned to Oregon and began weaving lung-searing speed intervals into his workouts.
“You just have to take it step by step,” he says. “I’m a lot stronger and a lot sharper this year.”
An American Icon
Steadily becoming an American icon, Nick has been labeled the “Brad Pitt of track and field” and now even has his own Topps trading card. Despite all the time in the limelight, Nick still does most of his relaxing in much more rustic settings: hiking, fishing, target shooting and kayaking.
“Growing up in Boise, Idaho, I’m in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in America—in the world,” Nick says. “If I find two or three free hours, I want to be on the river, or I want to be out shooting. The sense of accomplishment I get from climbing a mountain is very, very similar to the sense of accomplishment I get when I run a personal best in a race.”
But Nick’s latest personal best brought more satisfaction than any of his previous races or any of his mountain summits. Nick knows he shattered more than just the 1:43 mark in London; he shattered everyone’s expectations—even his own.
“I thought I might run mid-1:43s at some point in my life; I didn’t think I was physically gifted enough to run in the 1:42s,” he said. “I never thought I was capable of 1:42.95.(From the September 2012 issue of Leadership In Action magazine)
“When it comes to recovery, ProFlex® Shakes make a big difference. Melaleuca Athlete Nick Symmonds