“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”
While Jay-Z used that line from the remix of Kanye West’s song “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” nearly twelve years ago, that line could also be used to describe Nick Symmonds (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts, who announced Tuesday that the 2017 season will be his final season competing at the national and international level.
The graduate of Willamette University in Oregon and former member of the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite won six US national titles at 800 meters, qualified for two US Olympic teams at that distance, and won a silver medal at the 2013 IAAF world championships in Moscow using his patented sit and kick strategy.
Upon the expiration of his Nike contract, he signed with Brooks in 2014 and moved up to the Seattle area from Eugene to train with Beasts coach Danny Mackey, and became a mentor to some of the younger members of the Brooks Beasts, including 2015 IAAF world championships team member Cas Loxsom.
Symmonds won the 2015 US nationals, but did not go to Beijing for the world championships, after getting into a dispute with USA Track & Field over a provision requiring him to wear Nike apparel at all team functions. He contended that the federation’s interpretation of “team functions” was broad, and not specific, and that the provision violated the terms of his personal contract with Brooks.
During his career, he’s auctioned off his shoulder as advertising space, started RunGum caffeinated gum for athletes, sponsored athletes competing at the 2015 USA national championships by providing racing kits with the RunGum logo, challenged USA Track & Field and the USOC in court last year asking that he and other athletes be allowed to run in logos beyond those of shoe and apparel manufacturers, and used social media to ask Paris Hilton for a date.
Because of his willingness to stand up for the rights of track and field athletes against the alphabet-soup athletic organizations and the major sponsors of the sport, he’s been accused of grandstanding and self-promotion.
In fact, in an interview with the New York Times, Symmonds admitted that, “I’ve never considered myself a runner.”
“Nick is nothing if not a fighter, and we know that when he is on that starting line, he can do amazing things. We believe that 2017 will be no exception,” said Brooks sports marketing manager Jesse Williams.
“Brooks is excited to see what Nick will do in his final season both on and off the track.”