Central Texans welcome Olympian home
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At 5-feet 5-inches tall, Leonel Manzano says he’s unassuming as an athlete.
Manzano took silver in the men’s 1500 meter race at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, making him the first American medal in the event in more than 40-years and completing a life goal that started at Marble Falls High School. Sunday, he was welcomed home with a police escort and told his story in front of students and neighbors.
"The best moment was really when I crossed that line and brought home an Olympic medal," Manzano said. "You look at me and I am only 5-feet, 5-inches tall, not very big. I want all the kids to look at me and say, 'Hey if he can do it, I can do it.' There is no reason why there couldn't be more people out there aspiring to be Olympians or doctors or lawyers."
Kyle Futrell Coached Manzano through high school, and as an athlete, Futrell says Manzano required little guidance.
"I tried to just make sure I had the bus gassed up and the entry fee paid, because he didn't take much coaching," Futrell said.
While one big race is over, there are still more to come. He is continuing to train and race, and hopes to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
"He is an international athlete of star quality and yet I look over there and it's just regular Leonel, and that is what's pretty neat," Futrell said.
Coaches who knew Manzano as a teen say they still have high hopes for the Central Texas track star. Locals say he’s an inspiration.
"It’s amazing to know he’s just like me. He came here. He is from Marble Falls and pursuing a goal is really good and he actually did it," Marble High School Sophomore Elizabeth Roberts said.
Manzano is originally from Granite Shoals. The neighboring community announced a ground breaking for a hike-and-bike trail in his name among other honors.