The Olympians - Leo Manzano
“The fastest Latino man alive.” That’s what the press has dubbed Olympic silver medalist Leonel “Leo” Manzano. In 2012 the Mexican-American who hails from the Lone Star state got to show the world not just how fast he was, but also how principled. Born in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato Mexico, Manzano moved to Texas at the age of four as an undocumented immigrant and would gain legal residency 10 years later. Raised in Granite Shoals, Texas running would become his sport of choice and he found success early picking up some serious hardware in the form of five NCAA National Championship titles and was named an All-American no less than nine times.
His natural next step was to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, the sports ultimate prize would elude him that year. No worries, Manzano, 28, was nothing if not persistent and would continue competing, well enough to make it to the London games in 2012 where he captured the Olympic silver medal for the United States in the 1,500 meter event, breaking a 44-year drought for the U.S. in middle-distance running.
During the games Manzano often took to Twitter to post updates, in English and Spanish. After winning the medal he tweeted: “Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!” Yet controversy followed as many in the blogosphere pounced on the fact that Manzano celebrated with both the Mexican and American flags. The critics were essentially requiring that he choose a side. Yet Manzano had just as many defenders noting that there was nothing wrong with demonstrating cultural pride and tipping his cap to his roots. While Manzano did not directly comment on the controversy post-victory, he took the high road. “Standing on the podium has been a dream of mine and I share it proudly with my family, friends, coaches and all my supporters from Austin, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals, Texas as well as Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico,” he told the Associated Press.
We salute Leo Manzano for his achievement on the field and his principles off of it because, after all, you can't know where you are going until you know where you have been.
By Alex Rios