The marquee event at many track meets has traditionally been the infamous men’s mile. Within this domain, Leonel Manzano has become a household name. Known for his tenacity and fight despite his small stature, he exploded onto the national scene as a freshman for the University of Texas by winning the 1500 NCAA Outdoor title in 2005. Since then, his accolades have continued to rack up, with numerous records and titles in individual as well as relay events. He finished his collegiate experience as a nine-time All-American and four time NCAA Champion. His international experience started while still a college junior, when he made the USA National team and traveled to Osaka, Japan to compete in the IAAF World Championships. This would give him valuable experience for the following year in which he represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Games. He has placed in the top three at USA National Championships the past five years.
What is your best track memory from past meets at Hayward Field and Eugene?
LM: My first track memory in Eugene was when I was a freshman at the University of Texas. I had never really been out of the state and when I came to compete in Eugene I was blown away on how great the fans were!
Highest finish here?
LM: I won my race as a freshman, I believe it was one of the Oregon invites.
What most impressed you about the Trials in 2008?
LM: What impressed me the most about the Trials in 2008 was the amount of participation from the Fans and the International TV coverage.
Are there any changes from previous meets at Hayward that you hope to see for the Trials?
LM: I think it would be great if they could have live music while we ran. Other than that I think it would be hard to make the meet better.
As an athlete, what do you foresee to be the biggest hassle/challenge in your experience in Eugene this summer?
LM: I think the biggest hassle would be the travel. Eugene is great but sometimes the flights into and out of Eugene are very limited.
Aside from your competition, what are you looking forward to most about the Trials this summer?
LM: The one thing I really look forward to is the excitement of the fans inside Hayward Field. There is a lot of energy and the fans are very knowledgeable.
Are you planning on getting here early or staying after your event?
LM: I am arriving about two days before my event. I am trying to be as focused as possible. At the end of the day it is a job and I have to do it to the best of my ability. Hopefully no distractions for me this time around. But maybe things will change afterward.
Do you have anything specific you like to do when you come to Eugene for meets (favorite restaurants/bars, etc you always eat at, places you like to stay)
LM: I like to go to Dutch Brothers Coffee in the morning and there is an organic burrito place I really love. The name escapes me.
To find out more about Leo and to follow his racing schedule this spring, go to his links on the web:
Facebook: Leo Manzano Fan Page