Catching Up With The Olympic 1500 Silver Medallist Leo Manzano In Monaco

  • submit to reddit

The Relaxed Manzano Is Hoping To PR at 2013 Herculis Monaco

July 18, 2013

Monaco –’s Weldon Johnson caught up with 2012 Olympic 1500 silver medalist Leo Manzano in the lobby of his hotel today, one day before he races in the super stacked Herculis 1500 tomorrow. Tomorrow’s race features a gold and silver medal battle as it also includes 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop as well as 2011 and 2013 US champion Matthew Centrowitz and double Olympic 5k/10k champ Mo Farah (interview with Farah here).

We’ve got the full interview embedded if you have ten minutes but wanted to give you the highlights in text as it’s way quicker.

Johnson started off by talking to the Manzano about his sponsorship status. Manzano said he’s still without a sponsor but said he does a good job of not worrying about it too much.

“I’m doing ok. Of course, it’s always nice to have a little extra cash in your pocket, but it’s not bad,” quipped Manzano.

Article continues below player

As for tomorrow’s race. Manzano is especially excited about the fact that he gets to race US 800 star Nick Symmonds for the first time at 1500 on a huge setting. They raced earlier in the year in the mile at the Kansas Relays and it was very close (See the chart on the right – Symmonds has beaten Manzano in their only other 1500).

Manzano vs. Symmonds Head To Head

Leo Manzano USA 

Nick Symmonds USA 

800 m    DNG Stockholm 2010-08-06  1:45.41 (6) 1:45.32 (5)
1500 m    High Perf Eagle Rock CA 2011-05-21  3:38.26 (9) 3:38.18 (8)
800 m    Pre Eugene OR 2011-06-04  DNF (0) 1:46.78 (8)
One Mile    KansasR Lawrence KS 2013-04-20  4:00.13 (2) 4:00.21 (3)
Wins: 1 3

“At this point, him and I have a very good friendship. We got to train (together earlier this year) in Mexico. It’s kind of like we’ve been travelling together for a while now. We have a very good friendly rivalry going on,” said Manzano about the guy he is sharing a hotel room with in Monaco.”I’m really excited that Nick Symmonds is going to get to race. We’ve kind of talked about him and I racing a 1000.” FYI Symmonds and Manzano are roommates in Monaco at the meet hotel.

Hoping To PR

Manzano realizes the field is stacked and he hopes in turn that he’s able to take advantage of that and PR.

“It’s a very, very solid field. It’s going to be a great race. Every time I’ve raced here everybody has run super fast so I’m hoping for a very fast time,” said Leo the lion.

“I haven’t PRd since 2010 so if I get a PR here I’m going to be really stoked.”

When asked if he’d rather win or get not PR and get second, Manzano smiled and said, “Both.”

Despite his sponsorship situation, it was clear that Johnson interacted with a relaxed Manzano who seemed to be in a great state mentally. And why shouldn’t he be? He comes into Monaco in great shape as he ran the second fastest 1500 of his life in his last race (3:33.14, pr is 3:32.37) and has an Olympic silver medal back at home (if you are planning on trying to rob Manzano while he’s in Europe, he joked that the medal is in his house in an “undisclosed location” that he doesn’t think anyone will find ) and gets to go for a personal best in the ritzy Monaco.

“It’s a really big treat to get to come to Monaco. As you’ve probably seen, just the scene and the views form the hotel, and then once you get to the track, that’s kind of a treat in itself. They treat you really well here – almost kind of like royalty.”

“It’s a great meet. It’s a treat to be here. I’m just really excited to race. I feel like there is no pressure.”

Race Tactics

Near the end of the interview, Manzano talked about the mind-set he has when he’s on the track. How does a champion like Manzano think when he’s racing?

“The thing about these (big Diamond League) races is when you are on the track it really strings out (quickly) so the chances of being boxed in just go away. You’re just on the track and it’s almost like you have a laser focus on whoever is right in front of you and the only thought that comes into your head is, ‘Just kind of relax and get through the first 800 and then we can start working the second half.'”

“If anything, I’d like to come through in 1:53-1:54 (Manzano said the rabbits are going to go at least 1:52). I think that would be perfect. If I could be within the top 4 or 5 during the first 800, that would be even better, but I’ll take 1:53-54, and just kind of go from there.”

At the end of the interview, it was interesting that Manzano revealed that the racing never gets old for him. In fact, Manzano is a bit like former NBA great Bill Russell who famously threw up before every NBA game because he was so nervous. Thankfully, Manzano doesn’t do that but each race feels like it’s his very first.

“I try to take every race on it’s own and of course every race is different. Every time I step onto the track or on the line, it’s like the first time every time. The nerves never go away. It’s something you can kind of control.”

Quick Take #1:  We did some research and could only find one career race for Manzano in Monaco. We thought there might be more as he said “Every time I’ve raced here.”

That one race?

The 2010 Monaco meet where two guys broke 3:30 and Andrew Wheating stunned the world by running 3:30.90 (LetsRun homepage from that day here). Manzano’s place in that race? Dead last in 3:42.93. My how their fortunes have changed.

Leo Talks a Little Andrew Wheating and Robby Andrews
Update: Speaking of Wheating, Leo talked about Wheating off camera. Leo was asked whether it was different to race with no time pressure of having to hit an “A” standard or having to qualify for Worlds like at USAs. Leo said he liked having no pressure. Then he mentioned how guys like Wheating and Robby Andrews might benefit if they could get back to just racing without the external pressure. He pointed out both Wheating and Andrews were running their best coming off of collegiate seasons. There was very little outside pressure on Wheating when he toed the line in Monaco in 2010.

Full video interview above. Great shot of Leo winning silver below.

More Monaco: Mo Farah Talks Speed Before 1500m

The US waited 44 years for this moment. *More 2012 Olympic 1500 Photos


Leo in Monaco

The 1:59:40 GOAT shirts are here
Posted in: Professional