Latino Catholic runner makes history at Olympic games
Forty-four years since the last victory by an American, Leonel “Leo” Manzano won an Olympic silver medal for the U.S. in the 1500-meter race, to the delight of his fellow parishioners at St. Ignatius the Martyr in Austin, Texas.
Born in Mexico and raised in the U.S., at five feet tall, Manzano caught the attention of the media first for his height and also for his habit of blessing himself and praying before competing.
During the 1500 meter race on Aug. 7 at London’s Olympic stadium, he stayed in second-to-last place for the majority of the event. But in the last 200 meters, Manzano sprinted past the entire group to claim the silver in the race’s fastest time ever for an American athlete.
Manzano told ESPN that after crossing the finish line he fell down on the track to pray and thank God for the fruits of all his sacrifices and the long hours spent in training and competitions away from his home in Austin.
When he is in Austin, Manzano attends Mass at St. Ignatius the Martyr Parish, where he gave a motivational talk to children at the local Catholic school last April.
Father Bill Wack, the pastor of St. Ignatius, told CNA that the local Catholic community “is proud of Leo – not only because he won a medal but also because he talks about his Faith and gives credit to God for his achievements.
“We are anxious to welcome him back home.” [More]