MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) - He made the final turn and then made a fast and furious charge that took him from also-ran to silver medal winner in the 1500-meter race.
Then Leo Manzano stood upon the Olympic podium. A position no American man had been in since 1968.
Some would call it a surprise or an upset.
But not in his hometown.
"That is his style," said Cheryl Westerman.
"He has that late kick," chimed in Jerry Bostick.
"He has always run with heart," recalled Denise Thornburg.
They all talked about Manzano as if they have been watching him race for years.
And they have.
"He ran cross-country with my daughter," said Westerman.
Everyone who filed into the "R" Bar and Grill on Tuesday afternoon knows Manzano. If not personally from his time at Marble Falls High School or the University of Texas, then from the sense of pride his brought to his hometown.
"It makes you so proud," said Thornburg.
The tiny restaurant off Main Street was packed full and focused on the television that was streaming the race live online. Many dressed in red, white and blue. Others waving flags of the same colors.
The cheers that rang out every time the cameras caught a glimpse of Manzano were the same cheers that were shouted at a high school track just a few miles away and just a few years earlier.
And even though this was a much bigger stage, his hometown supporters chatted like they were sitting in the old stadium bleachers.
"I hope he doesn't get boxed in," said Bostick as they nervously awaited the starting gun. "It is going to take some strategy to get out front and stay there."
Once the race began, yells of "Let's go, Leo" and "Come on, let's pick it up" were followed by relative silence as Manzano fell back into the pack.
But he, like his hometown half a world away, was saving the best for last.
Some were standing on tables as the crowd began chanting "go, go, go" in unison as the final lap began.
Then came the final 150 meters, a determined dash from the pack, and screams from the crowd that grew louder with each stride before finally climaxing when Manzano crossed the finish line and put his hand in the air.
"I was just screaming my head off," said Westerman.
The joy Manzano felt at the finish line was shared back in the town where it all started.
"It is awesome to see a hometown boy up there," Thornburg said.
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