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 — 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 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 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 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 — 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.

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."

TOKYO — Judo fighter Teddy Riner lost in the Olympic quarterfinal to the top-ranked judo athlete in their class in the world – and it was considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of his sport.

That says a lot about the legacy that the French athlete, a 6-foot-8-inch, two-time gold medalist known as "Big Ted," has built over his decade of absolute domination.

A loss in 2020 – to a Japanese fighter now nicknamed the "King Slayer" – ended Riner's 154-straight-fight winning streak.

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