Leonel Manzano is up and running for 2009. After a tough race at the adidas Track Classic, Leonel ran a 3:55 mile in St.Louis, then a very gutty run, winning the Reebok GP 1,500 meters in a world leading 3:34.14!
The following interview is from late April. We provided Leonel with questions and he responded. For our spanish speaking friends, we just had a nice piece in Latinos Corriendo no.19, refering to Leonel as David vs. the Goliaths.
Photo courtesy of Photorun.net.
Runblogrun. Tell us about your first experience in track & field?
Leonel: My first experience in track in field was in primary school when we had field day. The first race I ran on a track was the 4 by 100m when I was 8 or 9.
RBR. Did you run in high school?
Leonel: I have been running competitively since the summer of my sixth grade years. So I have been running for about 11 years now.
RBR. What was your training like?
Leonel: In high school we focused more on quality more than quantity. I probably ran anywhere form 30 to 40miles a week max. But mainly did a lot of 400s in workouts.
RBR. Tell us about the hardest lesson in going from high school to college?
Leonel: My hardest lesson was coming from high school to college and running with some of the top athletes in the country.
RBR. You like to be in the thick of racing, tell us about your racing philosophy?
Leonel: Just go out and have fun and Runâ€¦
RBR. Your NCCA win last year was brilliant, tell us about that race?
Leonel: I knew I needed to take the race out. It was windy so I had to be careful not to fight the wind too much. The change of pace helped me to maintain the lead and when it came time to kick I was able to get a good lead on the field.
RBR. Under huge pressure at the US Olympic trials, tell us about the experience and what you remember from the race?
Leonel: This race was also very windy. I remembered telling myself to stay smooth and be conscious of the field. I was able to make a couple good moves and put myself in good position. Bernard had a great finish and I was right behind him. It was a great race.
RBR: Beijing was your first Olympics, what was that like? What did you learn from the experience?
Leonel: After the trials, it was like roller coaster. My mom and dad got an opportunity to travel to china and watch me compete. This was very exciting since my parents had never been out of the county except for Mexico, this was also the first time they had ever flown.
One of my favorite memories is walking into the birds nest and hearing the roar of the crowd, looking up and around and feeling excited to be competing in front on the world scene. What I learned from my Olympic experience was that the Olympics was great event where the human race, the world comes together to compete in peace and harmony.
RBR: As a professional runner, how does that differ from what you did in college?
Leonel: Being a professional runner has been quite a challenge. Many things are given to you in college but as a professional you have to be more aware of the things that you do and donâ€™t do. Either way being a professional runner has been a lot of fun because of the freedoms that you have yet it is more responsibility
RBR: What would you tell young runners and coaches about your event, and why you love our sport?
Leonel: I have fun running my event. Running is a sport everyone can do. No matter if youâ€™re fast or slow, it can be a contest between you or someone else either way it is a clean non-violent sport that most people can enjoy. But for me the challenge of making myself better is what drives my will to run.
RBR: How has your family reacted to your success?
Leonel: Coming from Mojoneras a small farming community outside of Dolores hidalgo, not many people there know much about sports that is except for soccer. Yet my success has been a blessing, my family is very supportive of what I do.
RBR: There are several hispanic runners doing well in distance running in the US, do you see yourself as a role model for young latino runners?
Leonel: Running is a great sport. I have seen a rise in latino runners in the recent years. I wish them all the best and hope they and all young runners continue to improve and do well.
RBR: Finally, if you can give three tips to young distance runners, what would you give them about the keys to reaching their goals?
1. Have fun and enjoy your running
2. Donâ€™t stress about running have fun
3. Just go out and run and have funâ€¦.RUN!!!
Special thanks to Leonel Manzano and his manager, Ricky Simms.
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