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 — 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. She's walking away with a bronze medal.

China's Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing won gold and silver in the last Olympic event for women's artistic gymnastics.

Biles looked happy and relieved after dismounting the four-inch-wide beam, smiling and waving at the crowd to roaring applause in the nearly empty stadium.

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's 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.

TOKYO — We'll be talking about this race for years to come.

Two of the three fastest competitors ever in the event were on the starting line of the men's 400 meter hurdles final at the Tokyo Olympics — and both beat the previous world record time by a wide margin.

Norway's Karsten Warholm took gold, breaking his own world record with a time of 45.94. He smashed it by about three-quarters of a second.

"I just ran with my life. I would die for that gold medal today," Warholm said.

Behind him was Rai Benjamin of the U.S., with a blazing fast 46.17.

TOKYO — We're in the home stretch of the most dramatic Olympics in recent memory, held against great odds amid a global pandemic in a country where many Japanese residents didn't want it to happen at all.

Updated August 2, 2021 at 5:57 AM ET

TOKYO — In an upset, the top-ranked U.S. women's soccer team lost its semifinal game to Canada 1-0 at the Tokyo Olympics, pushing it out of contention for a gold medal.

The World Cup champs could still take bronze if they win their next game against Australia on Thursday.

Updated August 2, 2021 at 7:04 AM ET

TOKYO — U.S. gymnast Jade Carey has won gold — her first Olympic medal — in the individual floor exercise final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Carey, a 21-year-old from Arizona, became the sole U.S. competitor in this event after Simone Biles withdrew to focus on her mental health. Carey pulled off a complicated tumbling routine with a high degree of difficulty, scoring a 14.366.

Updated August 2, 2021 at 9:19 AM ET

U.S. star gymnast Simone Biles will return for the final women's artistic gymnastic event of the Tokyo Olympics, after multiple withdrawals to focus on her mental health.

"We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow - Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!!" USA Gymnastics said. "Can't wait to watch you both!"

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.

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