The Dreams Of A London-Bound Miler

One of America’s fastest milers admits he wasn’t very good when he first started.

It may not seem obvious now, but there once was a time when Leo Manzano would lose a race. Coming from humble roots in Mexico, the former University of Texas middle-distance specialist would race his grandfather and perpetually come up short–until the day his grandfather broke his foot.

“That was the first time I won,” recalls Manzano, now 26 years old.

Manzano boasts impressive times on the track. He’s run 3:32 for 1,500 meters and is a 3:50 miler, making him one of the most decorated NCAA runners in collegiate history. When he was four years old, Manzano moved to Granite Shoals, Texas where his father worked as a machine operator for a granite quarry. His mother also worked outside the home, holding down numerous odd jobs.

The summer after sixth grade, Manzano joined his first track program. “I actually wasn’t that good at first,” he admits.

At first, his hard-working parents discouraged Manzano from running. “All they saw was I was running and had no job. They thought, ‘What are you doing wasting your time?’” he recalls.

For More: Austin 360

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