Leo Manzano

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Leo Manzano, Olympic 1500m silver medalist, retires

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Leo Manzano, who moved from sixth coming around the final curve of the 2012 Olympic 1500m to take silver, has retired at age 34, citing several reasons including a calf injury and a desire to spend more time with his family, specifically 6-year-old son Max.

Manzano said he felt calf tightness while cooling down after a November workout. It was later diagnosed, after multiple doctor visits and to a chiropractor, as a calf heart attack. He decided to retire in February.

“I started coming to these realizations,” Manzano said. “I’m 34 and, looking back, man it’s just been so good [running for two decades], but right now my body is definitely telling me something. I knew I could potentially compete to fight to get through it, but I’m really happy with where I am, and I want to focus a little bit more on what’s next.”

That includes continuing with sponsor Hoka One One as an ambassador and moving into athlete representation. Manzano said he is certified through the IAAF and USA Track and Field.

Manzano was a surprise podium placer at the 2012 London Games, taking the first U.S. medal in the event for a man or woman since Jim Ryun in 1968. He came into the Games ranked outside the top 20 in the 1500m field on fastest times for the year.

But then Manzano passed nine men in the last lap of the final, finishing .71 behind Algerian winner Taoufik Makhloufi.

“The first word that comes to mind is just incredible,” Manzano remembered Sunday. “Even thinking back on it I’m still kind of in awe, maybe a little bit of a shock, right?

“Forever it’ll be one of those races that I still look back on it, and I even get a little motivation out of it as well when things aren’t going right.”

Manzano was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. His father, Jesus, crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas 16 times searching for work and returning with money to his family until, in 1987, he acquired legal residency. The Manzanos settled in Texas when Leo was 4, and he became a citizen in 2004.

Manzano, at 5 foot 5 with a trademark furious kick, went on to win the 2008 NCAA 1500m at Texas, make his first Olympics in 2008 (eliminated in the semifinals) and win the 2012 Olympic Trials.

After his Olympic silver, Manzano made world championships teams in 2013 and 2015, then was fourth at the 2016 Olympic Trials. He counted taking second at 2013 USATF Outdoors, while unsponsored, and clocking his personal best 3:30.98 in 2014 (fifth-fastest performer in U.S. history) as his two highlight races outside of the 2012 Olympics.

Manzano’s last race was at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships, where Manzano was eighth in his first-round heat.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Jenny Simpson, Matthew Centrowitz win Olympic Trials 1500m finals

Matthew Centrowitz
AP
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Brenda Martinez was laying on the track, her head buried in her hands.

She seemed prepared for heartache again at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. She tripped after she charged around the final turn of the 800 meters on Monday, missing out on a top-three finish and a coveted spot on the Olympic team for Rio.

She had one more chance to make the team in the 1,500 meters. Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury grabbed the top two spots, and Martinez and Amanda Eccleston leaned for third before collapsing.

Martinez appeared to sob, unable to look at the results on the scoreboard at Hayward Field. But Simpson was watching intently.

Once it was official, Simpson ran to Martinez and scooped her into her arms.

“I’m so proud of you,” Simpson said. “I’m so proud of you.”

Martinez had edged Eccleston by .03 seconds.

“Maybe that can be my story,” Martinez said about finally making the team. “If I can help someone along the way: Don’t give up on your dream.”

Later, Matthew Centrowitz made his second Olympic team with a victory in the men’s 1,500 meters. Centrowitz finished fourth at the London Games.

Runner-up Robby Andrews and third-place finisher Ben Blankenship also are headed to Rio. Leo Manzano, the silver medalist in the London Olympics, finished fourth and did not make the team.

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U.S. finishes World Championships with fewest medals since 2003

U.S. 4x400m relay intro
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The U.S. finished the World Track and Field Championships with 18 medals, its fewest at a single Worlds or Olympics since the 2003 World Championships, and fewer gold medals than Jamaica and Kenya.

The U.S. earned gold in the men’s 4x400m relay and silver in the women’s 4x400m (behind a Jamaican comeback on the final straightaway) on the final night of competition in Beijing on Sunday (full results here).

The U.S. totaled six gold medals for the nine-day meet, finishing third in those standings, one behind Jamaica and Kenya. It’s the lowest finish for the U.S. in the gold-medal standings at a single World Championships, in their 15th edition.

“There was pockets of great moments, pockets where, you know, I think we expected to do a lot better than we did,” Allyson Felix, who ran the third fastest 4x400m relay split ever for her third medal of the meet, told media in Beijing. “I think the biggest thing that we take away is just being hungry for next year [and the Rio Olympics].”

In 2013, the U.S. won a Worlds-leading 25 medals and six golds, one fewer gold than host Russia. Russia, which won 17 medals in 2013, left Beijing with two golds and four medals.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have World Track and Field Championships coverage Sunday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET.

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Early this summer, the U.S. was projected to break its previous high for Worlds medals (26). Two days before Worlds began, the respected Track and Field News predicted the U.S. would finish with 31.

Where did it go wrong?

The U.S. earned zero gold medals in men’s individual track events at a Worlds or Olympics for the first time (h/t @davidwoods007). It earned one gold medal in women’s track events (Allyson Felix in the 400m).

The U.S. could have won 10 medals across the four hurdles events. It came away with three, with gold-medal contenders Dawn Harper-Nelson and Keni Harrison (100m hurdles) and Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch (400m hurdles) failing to make their finals.

Americans fared worse in the distance races. The U.S. earned one medal of any color in individual races longer than 400 meters — Emily Infeld‘s surprise bronze in the 10,000m.

Past Olympic and Worlds medalists Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Galen Rupp, Brenda Martinez, Jenny Simpson and Shalane Flanagan missed the podium. As did Evan Jager and Emma Coburn, who were hopes to end U.S. steeplechase medal droughts.

Keep in mind for Rio that no U.S. man or woman has won Olympic gold in a track event longer than 400m since Dave Wottles 800m title while wearing a cap at Munich 1972.

On Sunday, Felix won her 13th career Worlds medal with a 47.72-second third leg in the 4x400m relay, making up a 1.99-second Jamaican lead and handing a .48 advantage to Francena McCorory.

McCorory, who had the world’s three fastest 400m times this year going into Worlds, was passed on the final straightaway by Jamaican anchor Novlene Williams-Mills, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two months before she ran in the 2012 Olympics.

source: Felix’s silver moved her into a tie with Usain Bolt at 13 Worlds medals, one behind record holder Merlene Ottey, a retired Jamaican/Slovenian sprinter. The U.S. women posed like Charlie’s Angels in their pre-race intro.

“It’s bittersweet,” Felix told media in Beijing. “You can run as fast as you want, but if you don’t win, it doesn’t quite mean that much.”

The U.S. won the final event of Worlds, the 4x400m relay (video here), with 400m silver medalist LaShawn Merritt anchoring for his 11th Worlds medal, most by an American man.

Centrowitz and Manzano were eighth and 10th in the 1500m, with countryman Robby Andrews 11th. Centrowitz had won bronze and silver at the last two Worlds. Manzano is the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

Kenyan favorite Asbel Kiprop prevailed in 3:34.40 (video here), followed by countryman Elijah Manangoi (3:34.63) and Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider (3:34.67). Kiprop has won three straight World 1500m titles plus the 2008 Olympics.

Manangoi, a Maasai warrior, planned a special celebration.

“I’m going to cut the goat,” Manangoi told media in Beijing, “and drink the blood.”

Earlier, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba became the first woman to win 1500m and 5000m medals at a single Worlds, taking bronze behind countrywoman Almaz Ayana in the 5000m (video here).

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