July 22, 2008
LEO MANZANO (1,500 meters)
On if his parents are going to accompany him to Beijing: Believe it or not, I think my dad really wants to go. I talked to him two nights ago and he's really interested in going. I was really excited; I think Coach Vigilante is really excited, just because my dad normally doesn't come to track meets. He sounded really pumped up about it. He's been working for about 18 years, and I believe they might sponsor him to go. He's really excited about it, and like I said, I was kind of surprised because I normally wouldn't see him be like `I want to go.' Now, he wants to go.
On if it's hit him that he's going to the Olympics yet: Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's almost unreal. I'll go to bed at night, I'll be sleeping and all of a sudden I'll wake up and think `I'm going to the Olympics.' It's really awesome. I'm very excited. It's still very unreal. Right now, I'm trying to come back down to Earth and regain myself and let the body rest. It's been very stressful the last two weeks, and it's been pretty crazy the last couple days. One thing that I need to do is kind of get away from things, settle down and get back down to Earth and start to refocus on what I need to do. This week, we've kind of had an easier week, but next week will probably be pretty tough.
On how it feels to represent the U.S. in the Olympics: I'm very honored. My family came to the U.S. when I was four. I grew up in Texas. I feel like the U.S. has given me many opportunities I wouldn't have had in Mexico, and so I feel like I owe a lot to this country. To be able to represent the U.S. in Beijing is an honor for me. I want to go out there and give it the best shot that I have. If you go out there and give your best and people know you gave your best, then that's all you can really ask for.
On his primary competition for a medal: I know the top guy is Bernard Lagat; he's the man, the reigning world champion. Knowing that, I guess he'd be the guy to shoot for.
On Bernard Lagat: He's an awesome guy, a very humble guy. He has a great family. The way he carries himself as a person, and then as an athlete. I've had a couple words with him, he's very inspirational, very experienced in many things, not only track but life as well. He's kind of let me know how to carry myself and let me know how to handle certain situations.
On how he thinks he is going to be viewed going into the Olympics: I think I'm probably going to be overlooked. This is my first really big year, so I think I'm going to be overlooked. Not many people are going to know about me and who I am which I'm fine with. Either way, I'm going to go out and give the best shot I have, hopefully more if I have it. That's all I can really hope for.
On his plans between now and the Olympics: I decided to stay here in the U.S. The time between now and when I need to be in China is too short to be traveling. I figured the best opportunity to give myself to do well at the Olympics would be to gather myself here first, get away from everything, relax and recover mentally and physically, and then have some incredible workouts. I'm going to up the intensity and maybe even up the mileage a little bit. I'm not thinking about leaving. I'm going to stay here in Austin and train like I've never trained before. One thing that I'm really excited about is when Bernard Lagat beat me, of course I was happy finishing second, but I wasn't content. I felt like having run since January, I've probably run over 15 races this year and I've been feeling kind of worn out and fatigued from all the races. Finishing second to Bernard Lagat feels to me like it brought back the fire. I'm going to use that on the track and make sure I have some really good workouts.
On his running schedule at the Olympics: In Eugene, I ran Thursday, Friday, and then we had a day off, and then the final. In China, it will be every other day, so it will be the 15th, the 17th and the 19th. I believe each round is going to be a final in itself. That's how intense it's going to be. I believe the first round is going to be like my final in Eugene. It's going to be tough mentally and physically. I have to go out there and fight, it's going to be an all-out war between all of us, and nobody's going to want to give an inch. It's going to be tough, but if all goes well we'll finish at the top.
On Lopez Lomong: I believe Lopez Lomong is probably one of the toughest stories there probably is within the people that qualified and have been naturalized herein the U.S. If you go back and look at his story, he probably went from famine to paradise in his condition in Sudan to the U.S. He's been through a lot, I know Bernard Lagat has probably been through a lot, I've probably been through some things, but I don't think it really compares to Lopez Lomong's story. It definitely shows how diverse our country is, it's a melting pot. I'm sure those guys want to give back as much as I do. I know they're really proud and very honored to be able to represent the U.S.
On his trip to Washington, DC shortly after becoming a US citizen: That was my first time to be able to do that. It was actually right after I got my citizenship, my family was excited, a lot of my friends and high school coaches were excited for me. I believe it was within the month we went to Washington, DC. We got to walk around and see the Lincoln Memorial; we got to see the Vietnam Memorial. I'm very, very appreciative and very blessed.
On what his workout regimen will be for the Olympics: On average, maybe five hours a day. Being in and out of the weight room, running on the track, long runs and different workouts.
On how his life has changed since making the Olympic team: I don't think it's changed much. I'm still the same guy; I don't think I'm going to change much. This is a special time for a lot of people, a lot of people are very excited and are very excited to know somebody that's going to the Olympics. I think that's what makes it special. Other than that, I don't think my life has changed much.
TREY HARDEE (Decathlon)
On if it's hit him that he is an Olympian yet: The week or so after, it really didn't. I got back to Austin and I had to jump on a plane to catch my sister giving birth to my nephew, which was exciting, and then I think now with all of this going on, it's kind of sunk in. It's kind of hit me. I've talked to Bubba (Thornton) a couple times, and he's just told me to relax, don't change anything, soak it in and experience it. I think I'm ready to go, and it's exciting.
On ending the relaxation period and getting back into training: The honeymoon pretty much stopped a week ago, as far as relaxing and stuff. We picked right back up on all the training and all the normal stuff that we used to do. I've been out here busting my butt the last eight or nine days.
On if he thinks he has a chance to medal: I believe so, and my coach thinks so. We're just using these three and four weeks we have left to fine-tune some things and get focused and ready to go.
On his mindset for the Olympics, compared to his mindset for the Trials: I think for me, mentally, we go in with the same concept. We go in with the same thing; we think we know what it's going to take to medal at the Olympics and if we go in under control and I'm myself and we're not trying to do anything too crazy, then we think we're going to medal. If it takes me (setting a personal record) in 10 events and I still don't medal, then that's okay, it just wasn't meant to be. We're confident that if we can go in with the same mentality and the same mindset that we did at the Trials, we'll come out with a medal.
On if he's been told what to expect and stepping in to the Olympic stadium for the first time: As far as what I'm going to feel, no, but a lot of people are just like `Watch out for the pollution.' We'll see it when we get there; I'm not really worried about it. All of those other things are going to take care of themselves. I'm sure the biggest thing for me is going to be stepping into an Olympic stadium with 90,000 people. That's going to be an experience and that's going to set me back a little bit, but that's why I'm going to go to the Opening Ceremonies and hopefully get those jitters out of the way.
On representing the United States: That's going to be exciting. I've only done it one other time, and that's just for a small Under-23 meet up in Canada. It was a pretty special thing then. When they hand over your uniform and they're like `This is what you're going to wear when you compete,' when you first put it on the morning of the competition, you get chills, it's pretty exciting. It's going to be amazing. I can't wait.
On what other athletes he wants to meet at the Olympics: That was one of the first questions one of my friends asked me, and I went right to LeBron James. His presence and just who it is in media and America, he's just a huge, dominant figure. Again, anyone on the men's basketball team, I think would be cool to meet in person. I've never been to an NBA game, just to see those guys, like they're actually human beings that can do what they do. I think would be pretty exciting. Then, just to get to know the other track and field athletes, to get to know them on a personal level, and have some experiences with them and hopefully make some friends.
On his philosophy for the Olympics and his career: Bubba's been telling me to take it for what it is and experience it. If it happens, it happens, if we go out there and I don't perform well, that's just what it is, I went and I didn't perform well. This whole thing is a journey; the journey's not going to end for me until hopefully 10 or 12 years down the road with my track career. I'm just going to take it as it comes. I'm not going to try to say this is the end or this is the beginning or this is the middle. I'm along for the ride and wherever I'm headed, that's where I'm going.
On all the other Longhorns going to Beijing: I'm excited. I just read on the Web site TexasSports.com the other day that (Taylor) Teagarden just got named to the baseball team, which is awesome. That's something really special because as of right now this is the last Olympics that baseball is in, and he got added on to the team. I think that puts us at 22 Longhorns going over to Beijing, that's going to be incredible to have so many familiar faces, just sharing that experience with people that are from Austin and represent this university as well.
On wearing the American colors in Beijing: The morning of (your event) when you first put it on and you're not going to take it off till the end of that day, it's pretty special. When you take off the warm-ups and you're standing on the starting line in front of 80,000 people and you're wearing U.S.A., it's pretty cool.
ANDRA MANSON (High Jump)
On if being an Olympian has sunk in yet: Yes and no. Once I get over there, it'll really hit me. Until then, I'm kind of just really excited.
On what it means to be an Olympian: It means a lot. All the hard work that I've done is paying off now by me making the Olympic team. It just means a lot to me.
On his goal for Beijing: I want to win a gold medal. I'm not going over there just to have a great show and come in second or third, I want to win the gold medal.
On his confidence heading into Beijing: I believe in myself, and knowing in the work I've done in the past. I competed enough this year. I know I can jump those same bars the (other competitors) are jumping. It's a matter of just believing in yourself and having confidence in what you're doing.
On staying relaxed inside of a full stadium: It's going to be tough. Even at the trials, it was pretty tough because I was relaxed and then all of a sudden you pop your head up and you have 20,000 people looking dead-on, right at you. I know by being in a stadium like that it's going to be a little bit tougher. I can rely on experience I had in Jamaica, being in a big stadium like that. It'll be okay.
On what he's looking forward to the most about being at the Olympics: Probably the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. I hear so much about them from my coach, they were saying this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I'm looking forward to that.
On how not making the Olympic team in 2004 has helped him: I kind of sit down with Bubba (Thornton), and we talk about that all the time. I kind of feel it was best that I didn't make the team in 2004 because I feel like if I would have made that team, I might have left school early and just done a lot of unnecessary things. Now, I'm graduating this summer, actually in August, so I don't know if I'll be here to go through the ceremony. Everything is paying off for me now, being a college graduate means a lot to me. Making the Olympic team means a lot, it's been a terrific year so far.
On possibly missing his graduation to be at the Olympics: I really can't explain it. I talked with my coach before I came out here about that. The Olympics come around once every four years, and making this team is once in a lifetime. Maybe I can push my ceremony back to December. I'm just happy everything's working out for me now.
On being joined by so many other Longhorns in Beijing: Oh yeah, that will help. Most importantly, my close friend Bubba will be there, we share a lot. Trey Hardee's going to be my roommate, and so it's a great feeling. It'll help me be more relaxed and just have fun while I'm over there.