Q&A with Leo Manzano
On the running conditions in Eugene: It was great. The weather was amazing. We showed up the first day, and it's like 75 (degrees), crisp and fresh air. It was great. After that, it got a little warm, but it wasn't as bad as Texas. It probably got up to about 85 degrees. I usually raced about 8 (p.m.) so it was very comfortable. It was a littler warmer for the final, and pretty windy, so that was challenging, but I made it through.
On what it meant for him to run in Eugene: It's awesome. Texas Relays is awesome, but running in Eugene is kind of like the Super Bowl of track and field, especially in distance running. Normally, when people go out and watch a 10K, people start leaving. But in Eugene, it's like a fight. People are stomping their feet, clapping their hands, making noise and just cheering on the guys.
On his strategy for the preliminary races and finishing second for the first time this year: The first two rounds were good. The sole purpose of the first two rounds is just to make it to the next rounds. So, in the first round you just really focus on making it to the second round. I wasn't even thinking about (running) the next rounds until I made it. I didn't even think about the second round until I got out of the first one, and the same thing with the final. I didn't think about the final until I made the final. The final was probably one of the tougher races that I've run this year. It was exciting, but in a way I was still a little disappointed to get second. I guess getting second to the world champion isn't too bad, but it's the first race that I've lost this year.
On how the wind affected the finals: It was pretty bad. Usually when it's windy it starts to become a little more tactical. The kickers will start coming up and I knew that I needed to make a move and hold my ground. There were some instances where I really thought I was probably going to fall.
On the pushing incident in the finals: Within the last 400, there was this one guy that pretty much pushed another guy, and Bernard (Lagat) almost came tumbling into me. He actually hit me on accident and I went out into lane three and I had to regain myself. With 300 meters to go, the guy just faded. Bernard and I just went by him. Luckily everything went well. It's really great to make it (to the Olympic team). It's really exciting.
On his dream of making the Olympics and how it feels to finally make it: I started running in the summer of my 6th grade year. I didn't know what running was. Along the way people were saying, 'If you keep at it, if you do well there is a possibility you might go to the Olympics.' It's always been in the back of my mind, and now I made it. I don't think it's totally quite hit me yet. I'm still getting a lot of feedback from a lot of people, my family and friends. My phone has been going crazy. It's been really exciting, I think it's finally starting to hit me a little bit. I'm just really excited about it.
On his training before he came to Texas: I didn't know anything about running until I came to UT. I had some good coaches (in high school), but they were more football-oriented coaches. They pretty much researched as much as they could and tried to give me some workouts, whatever they thought would be the best for me, and they did a really good job doing that. I was kind of kept away from the longer runs and from being burnt out, which I'm really thankful for. When I came to UT, it was a totally different world. I was like, 'What, you have to run an hour a day?' Going from less than 30 minutes a day to 60, sometimes even 100 miles a week, it was a totally different change.
On Coach Jason (Vig) Vigilante: Vig has been great. He's been there since I came to UT. He and Coach Bubba Thornton gave me an opportunity to come (to Texas). When they were recruiting me, I wasn't the best of athletes, I was probably a little overweight and didn't know what running was. I think he said something about me running a 4:06 mile, so there was some hope. I'm really glad that they believed in me. They've been there along the way. I'm really grateful for Vig's wife Amy. She's given up a lot for me and Vig. We're always gone, it almost seems like he spends more time with me than he does with his family. I'm really appreciative of Amy.
On having Texas track and field coach Bubba Thornton as the head coach for Team USA at the Olympics: Yeah, that's going to be awesome. Even having him at the Olympic Trials just made it that much better. After I crossed the finish line, I could barely talk, but he came up and gave me the packet and said, 'You need to show up here for the Olympic Ambassador program,' and I was like, 'Thanks, Coach.'
On his excitement to train for the Olympics: It's been a long road, but I'm definitely hoping to improve. I'm happy, but at the same time I'm not content. I'm really hoping to hit the training pretty hard these next couple of weeks. I'm just keeping my head up, hoping to be a little meaner, a little stronger. I'm just ready to go at it.
On his schedule from now to the Olympics: We had been thinking about maybe going to Europe, but I don't think that's the smartest of plans. I think we might end up just staying here and really bringing our intensity level for training up to the next level. I had a long college season, and the Trials, so I need to get re-charged. I was just really ready to get the Olympic Trials done and over. Going into the Trials, my fire was like a little flame, and after Bernard Lagat beat me, the flame grew. I'm definitely really pumped up about getting back on the track and doing some good workouts.
On what it's been like since the Trials: I'm just trying to recover. After the race, it was pretty crazy, and yesterday was pretty crazy getting back (to Texas). I probably had about 60 text messages and missed calls. It's been exciting, it's awesome and I'm very appreciative of all the people that have been there and that are there now.