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Leo Manzano is an athlete competing in track and field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA, making his second appearance at the Games, where he hopes to contend for a medal in the men's 1500m.

After coming up short at the U.S. Outdoor Championships four straight years, including runner-up finishes at the '08 Trials and 2009 and 2010 Nationals and a third-place effort in 2011, Manzano broke through for his first national championship in 2012, surging passed 2011 Worlds bronze medalist Matt Centrowitz on the final straight to win the Olympic Trials in 3:35.75, the ninth-fastest time of his career.

In Beijing, Manzano turned in his best performance of the 2008 season, running a season-best 3:36.67 to finish sixth in his opening heat and advance to the semifinals. That would be as far as he would get, however, as he finished 11th in the semis in 3:50.33.

Just weeks after he won the NCAA title in the 1500m, Manzano earned a spot in the Olympics with a runner-up finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Manzano came on late in a tactical 1500m race. Gabe Jennings led the first two laps before fading fast. Bernard Lagat took his first lead at the bell lap and established himself wide of the first lane for position. Manzano made a strong push, but couldn't overtake Lagat (3:40.37), and finished second in 3:40.90. Lopez Lomong took the third spot, giving the U.S. three naturalized citizens on the team.

Manzano's father, Jesus, crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas 16 times searching for work and returning with money to his impoverished family. He did not know how to swim. Eventually, in 1987, Jesus Manzano acquired legal residency and moved his family, including 4-year-old Leo, to the United States.

Manzano's parents — his father operates a rock-crushing machine and his mother is a maid — could not understand their son's fascination with running. "My parents came here to have a better life and give us more opportunities to succeed," Manzano said. "They were and still are all about hard work, 'Go out, get yourself a job.' I had a job at 12. My parents probably had a third- or fourth-grade education back in Mexico. They had no idea what going to college or playing a sport was. To this day I have a lot of family in the same situation. With me running, they've figured out there's more than just breaking your back with hard labor all the time."

Fortunately for the 5-foot-5 Manzano, running is one of the few sports where height doesn't matter. But weight does, and when he realized his dream of running for the University of Texas, Manzano struggled to compete with his new, lighter teammates. "I worked a lot of nights at an Italian restaurant in high school," he said. "I'd get done working and just eat. I weighed 138 pounds. I couldn't even keep up (with teammates) on runs. I think 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes at the most. I was so weak and heavy." After red-shirting as a freshman, Manzano spent the following fall getting into shape. He built his weekly mileage from 30 miles to 60, watched his weight fall to 123 pounds, and went on to win his first NCAA title in the 1500m.


How tall is Leo Manzano? How old is Leo Manzano? Where does Leo Manzano live? Find out here.

Age: 32 years old
Birthday: September 12, 1984
Height: 5' 5"
Weight: 126 lbs.
Full Name / Real Name: Leonal Manzano
Birthplace: Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
Hometown: Flatonia, TX
Current Residence: Austin, TX

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