And it’s none other than hometown Hill Country boy Leonel Manzano, BA ’08, Life Member, who grew up in Marble Falls.
On Tuesday evening, crowds watched the two-time Olympian storm down the 12-man stretch to a silver medal of historic proportions—and a long-awaited revival.
After failing to make it to the 1500m final four years ago in Beijing, the UT track star has more than redeemed himself.
At the start of the race, Manzano immediately fell to the back of the pack in his signature style. The initial favorites pushed to the front, not anticipating what would happen next.
To everyone’s surprise, Manzano fought his way to medal contention in the last 100m of the race.
In the final moments, Manzano gained momentum, coming from behind with a killer last-minute kick on the homestretch to claim silver in just 3:34.79. With his fist raised high in the air accompanied by a huge grin, Manzano crossed the finish line to secure his first Olympic medal.
After his big win, the Longhorn Olympian knelt down on the track and celebrated with flags from both the United States and Mexico.
At 4 years old, Manzano emigrated with his family from Mexico to Marble Falls in 1987. And soon after, the Texas-raised athlete garnered cross country honors and fame while attending UT. In his last season, the competitive runner finished as the top Texas runner at the NCAA and South Regional Championships in 2008. In all, the track and field athlete won four NCAA titles and earned nine All-American honors while at UT.
And with his biggest win yet behind him, Manzano has become the eighth Longhorn to earn a medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Leo Manzano. Photo courtesy Jim Sigmon.