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  • Submitted by: lena campos
  • 07 / 30 / 2012

Manny Huerta enjoying his Olympic trip, No more strawberry farms and no more volcanoes. 

Miami Olympic triathlete Manny Huerta has left behind his Costa Rican training grounds for the rainy, chilly roads of London.

Making his first trip to a Summer Games, the 28-year-old Cuban-born graduate of Florida Atlantic University is soaking up the experience.

“I want to walk into that stadium and be around all those great athletes and enjoy that moment,"Huerta told NBC 6 in an interview before the Opening Ceremony. "You never know if you’ll be able to come back one day so I want to make sure that it sticks in my mind for the rest of my life.”

Huerta can really make his Olympic experience memorable August 7th when he will try to bike, run and swim his way to the medal stand.  He’s also hoping to build on the momentum that got him to London.

Success a Message for Castro for Triathlete

In the final Olympic qualifying race in San Diego in May, Huerta needed to finish 9th or better to clinch one of two spots on men’s team --- something he had never done.   He finished exactly 9th and was overcome with emotion when he cross the finish line.

“In this sport, you have to be very good,” says Huerta, “but sometimes you need a little bit of luck for everything to click in.  I’ve gone through races where I’m very fit but something happens and it’s not in your hands, so it doesn’t show.  But on that day, everything clicked.  I had the race of my life.”

It’s been a steady climb for Huerta.  San Diego providing the breakthrough he needed.

“I think I learned a lot from 2011,” Huerta admits.  “It was pretty competitive pretty much all the races I went to.  So even though at first I wasn’t doing as good as I wanted to, I picked up only the positives from each race and I was able to put it together in 2012.”

“I just changed little things. The first couple of races of 2011 I wasn’t as quick as I wanted on the run, so I worked on those track sessions.  Same thing on the bike.  Same thing on the swim.”

Huerta has been training the past five weeks in the Irazu volcano basin in Costa Rica on a strawberry farm five thousand feet about sea level.  While living on a volcano may seem a little unorthodox, there’s a method to his madness.

“Well, one, it’s a little bit isolated.  I can focus there.  I can rest there better.  And by living at high altitude, your blood chemistry gets better.  It increases the red blood cells.  And it’s awesome living on a volcano,” Huerta jokes.

When he’s not in Costa Rica training, you can find him near Biscayne Bay parks, biking and running.  Huerta moved to Miami when he was 13.  Like Miami gymnast Danell Leyva, Huerta was born in Cuba.  He became a U.S. citizen 8 years ago and being able to represent the country that welcomed him is a special point of pride.

“I think I’m very lucky to be able to be born over there but then to come over here and succeed, I think it can open the doors to many kids that come to this country with a dream. I’m very honored that I can represent the USA at the biggest sporting event and I can’t wait for the race.”

Huerta considers his journey a direct challenge to Fidel Castro and his regime. He also dreams of a free Cuba.

“Maybe one day I would like to go and visit and swim on the same beach and in the same pool where I grew up, but for now my family is in Miami," he said.

Then Huerta adds with a smile, “Miami has a lot of Cubans too."


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