Merrit Kennedy

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

Kennedy joined NPR in Washington, D.C., in December 2015, after seven years living and working in Egypt. She started her journalism career at the beginning of the Egyptian uprising in 2011 and chronicled the ousting of two presidents, eight rounds of elections, and numerous major outbreaks of violence for NPR and other news outlets. She has also worked as a reporter and television producer in Cairo for The Associated Press, covering Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan.

She grew up in Los Angeles, the Middle East, and places in between, and holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University and a master's degree in international human rights law from The American University in Cairo.

TOKYO — Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan was entering the final lap of her 1,500-meter heat when the runner in front of her tripped, bringing Hassan crashing to the ground.

Suddenly well behind the leaders, she stood up and turned on the gas.

Eleven of the world's fastest runners stood between her and victory. With astonishing drive, she blazed by them one by one, rapidly making up ground.

TOKYO — Marcell Jacobs of Italy is the surprise victor of the fastest track race at the Tokyo Olympics, the men's 100 meter.

Jacobs beat his personal best time and put his star solidly on the map in the blazing fast race.

He was not well-known in the track world before today, making it to the semi-finals of this event in the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

After his victory, he gleefully hugged his teammate, high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi.

TOKYO — U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee has taken bronze in the uneven bars event final at the Tokyo Olympics, adding another medal to her hugely successful Games.

Belgium's Nina Derwael took gold and Anastasiia Iliankova with the team from Russia took silver.

Lee, an 18-year-old from Minnesota, became the U.S.'s best hope for gold in the individual all-around competition when Simone Biles withdrew to focus on her mental health. Lee delivered strong routines in every apparatus, snagging the top award in individual gymnastics.

The uneven bars is her best event.

TOKYO — U.S. gymnast MyKayla Skinner has won a silver medal in the individual gymnastics final for the vault – a competition she wasn't expecting to take part in at the Tokyo Olympics.

Skinner, 24, was tapped to compete in the vault after Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast in the world, withdrew from the competition to focus on her mental health.

"I dedicate this medal to Simone. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her," she said. "I told her I would be doing this one for her. She said, 'don't do it for me, do it for yourself', so technically it's for all of us."

When U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders is competing, she calls herself the "Hulk." It's the alter ego that bursts onto the field to fight for championships.

Saunders — with the help of her "Hulk" persona — took silver in the women's shot put final at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. She hurled the heavy ball 19.79 meters, or nearly 65 feet. It's the third medal ever for the U.S. in the women's event and it's Saunders' first.

U.S. superstar gymnast Simone Biles has pulled out of the individual final in the floor exercise, leaving one event in which she might still compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

"Simone has withdrawn from the event final for floor and will make a decision on beam later this week," USA Gymnastics said. "Either way, we're all behind you, Simone."

TOKYO — U.S. star sprinter Caeleb Dressel is on a hot streak. He added two gold medals to his haul from the Tokyo Olympics, departing the Games with five golds.

Dressel and his teammates Ryan Murphy, Michael Andrew and Zach Apple set a world record in the 4x100 meter medley relay.

Earlier today, Dressel touched the wall first in the 50 meter freestyle, setting an Olympic record in the shortest and fastest swimming distance with a time of 21.07.

Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica is officially the fastest woman in the world — again — after winning the 100 meters at the Tokyo Games in Olympic record time. She was the defending gold medalist in this event.

"I knew I had it in me, but obviously, I've had my ups and downs with injuries," she said Saturday, referring to a persistent ailment in 2018 and 2019. "I've been keeping faith all this time. It is amazing."

U.S. star swimmer Caeleb Dressel has beaten his own world record in the 100- meter butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 24-year-old led for the entire two-lap sprint and clocked it in 49.45 seconds. After winning, he celebrated with his closest competitor, Kristof Milak from Hungary.

"It was faster than I thought it was going to be," Dressel said. "I'm sure it was really fun to watch for everybody, it was certainly fun to take part in."

Dressel also took gold in the 100 meter freestyle earlier this week.

Updated July 30, 2021 at 10:35 PM ET

U.S. superstar gymnast Simone Biles will not compete in the uneven bars or vault individual finals on Sunday, after pulling out of the team and all-around finals to focus on her mental health.

"After further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars," USA Gymnastics said. "She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam."

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