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 — Sprinters, hurdlers and other runners at the Tokyo Olympics have been crushing their previous times and in many cases setting new records for their events.

Records, as they say, are made to be broken. But are these athletes getting a boost from the track itself?

"I would say it's a pretty fast track," said American hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, minutes after she smashed her world record.

TOKYO — Erriyon Knighton may be one of the youngest people in decades to represent the U.S. in men's track at the Olympics but he sailed through to the final of the 200-meter to compete with the fastest men in the world.

"I don't really try to put my age in it, I just go out there and run like I'm an adult just like they is," he said earlier this week.

The 17-year-old from Tampa, Fla., has made a dramatic rise in track, including knocking down an under-18 world record set by Jamaican track legend Usain Bolt in 2003.

TOKYO — The 400-meter hurdles has proved to be the marquee event on the track so far at the Tokyo Olympics.

U.S. runner Sydney McLaughlin surged from behind in the final stretch to break her own world record and take Olympic gold. Less than 24 hours earlier, the world record was smashed in the men's event.

Updated August 3, 2021 at 8:32 AM ET

TOKYO — After pulling out of multiple events to focus on her mental health, U.S. star gymnast Simone Biles was back on the mat for Tuesday's balance beam final at the Tokyo Olympics. And she won a bronze medal.

"I wasn't expecting to walk away with a medal. I was just going out there to do this for me and whatever happens, happens," Biles said after competition, adding that it "just meant the world to be back out there."

TOKYO — U.S. long jumper Brittney Reese has been racking up individual championship titles for more than a decade.

Three Olympic medals, including a new silver one on Tuesday. Eight world championship medals.

Is she the best long jumper of all time? "I am," she said. "Point-blank."

Reese, 34, doesn't hold the world record, but she has established herself as an extraordinary athlete over an astonishing number of years.

Now, as she ends her fourth and final Olympics, she thinks it's high time she gets the recognition she deserves.

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