On Tuesday, Mexican-born American runner Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games. Manzano, 27, entered the U.S. at the age of 4 without papers, according to LetsRun. He didn’t gain legal residency until 10 years later.
“Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!”, Manzano tweeted shortly after his win. Most of his tweets throughout the Olympics have been in both Spanish and English.
“I am honored and excited to represent both the United States and Mexico by earning this silver,” Manzano told the Associated Press. “Standing on the podium has been a dream of mine and I share it proudly with my family, friends, coaches and all my supporters from Austin, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals, Texas as well as Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.”
On the track Manzano celebrated with the U.S. flag and the Mexican flag.
“I’m really excited, so thrilled and so pumped. It was an insane race. It was probably the toughest race physically and mentally that I’ve ever been in,” Manzano said in a statement.
Manzano’s father Jesus gained legal residency under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, but it would take 10 years for the rest of the family to gain legal residency, according to Heather Jelen at the National Immigration Forum.
Leo Manzano became a citizen in 2004 and also represented the U.S. in the 2008 Olympics.
Manzano is also the first in his family to graduate from high school. He landed a track scholarship to the University of Texas, where he became a five-time NCAA champion and an 11-time NCAA All-American. He graduated with degrees in Spanish and Portuguese, and a minor in business.
Lastly, Manzano has a pre-game ritual which is interesting to say the least. Take a look for yourself and please do comment below if you know anything about it.