This is the second piece in a two-part series on the 20 Texan Olympians you should follow in London this summer. (Read the first article here.)
Leo Manzano, 1500 meter
Leo Manzano, a 5-5, 125-pound runner, is making his second appearance at the Olympics this year at age 27. Despite his drive and talent, his path to the U.S. Olympic Team was never a certain one. Born in rural Mexico, Manzano moved to Flatonia when he was four. “By the time I was a senior in high school, I knew if I ever wanted to compete for the U.S., I was going to have to be an American citizen,” Manzano told Fox News Latino. “I live in the U.S. I’m still very much connected to my Mexican heritage, but my home is the U.S. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” He received his citizenship in 2004, which was the same year he graduated from Marble Falls High School and matriculated at UT-Austin. Less than four years later, he represented the U.S. in Beijing, placing 12th in the 1500 meter.
Diamond Dixon, 4×400-meter relays
The first female athlete from the University of Kansas to qualify for the Olympics, KU sophomore and Houston native Diamond Dixon says her speed derives from the disappointment of her mother leaving her as a child. Coming into her first Olympics in London, the track has been a great equalizer for the 20-year-old: In 2010, she led the U.S. 4×400 relay team to a World Junior Championships title. “You just have to love what you’re doing and want what you think you deserve,” she told Bleacher Report. “Nobody is less than anybody else out here.”
Amy Acuff, high jump
When high jumper Amy Acuff, 37, won her fifth berth to the Olympics in June, she became one of six American track and field stars to ever qualify for so many games. The Corpus Christi native and Austin resident has sat out competition since she was pregnant in 2009. The UCLA grad told the New York Times that though she feels “a little rusty,” she believes “you come back stronger after having a baby.”
Andy Roddick, men’s tennis
After skipping the 2008 games to prep for the U.S. Open, Austin’s Andy Roddick will again try for gold this year in London. (Roddick, 29, made his first Olympic appearance in Athens in 2004.) The three-time Wimbledon finalist will be playing on familar territory on the grass courts of the All England Club. “You know the players, you know the venue, you know the format,” Roddick told USA Today. “It’s just that you’re playing for something different. You’re playing for your country.”
Destinee Hooker, women’s volleyball
It seems that 24-year-old Destinee Hooker is something of an athletic wunderkind, even for an Olympian. Hooker, a San Antonio native, won the NCAA high jump national championships in 2006 and 2007 (and again in 2009) while an undergraduate at UT-Austin, then took the 2008 track season off to focus on volleyball. After narrowly missing the Olympics in 2008 for both the high jump and volleyball, she is expected to be a standout in the latter this year in London. “I miss basketball, as well as track and field, but I have found my calling – and that is volleyball,” she told the San Antonio Express News.
Kerron Clement, 400-meter hurdles
The 2012 Olympic Games got off to something of a rocky start for 27-year old Clement, who caused a stir Sunday with a tweet complaining about the athletes’ bus getting lost on its way from Heathrow to the Olympic Village. “I tweeted in the moment. Everyone on the bus was very agitated,” the former Florida Gator told AP. “So I just tweeted it, thinking nothing of it. It went viral.” Clement, who was born in Trinidad and moved to La Porte in 1998, was a silver medalist in Beijing. He now aims to overcome this brush with bad publicity and climb the podium once more, this time to the top.
Michelle Carter, shot put
Michelle Carter has a lot to live up to: her father and coach, Michael Carter, has a 1984 silver medal in shot put (and a Super Bowl ring from the same year, to boot). But so far, she’s living up to these outsized expectations: during her first Olympic berth, the UT-Austin alum placed 15th in her event, after qualifing from the games with a then-personal best and team leading throw. “[My dad] sees how serious I am about it,” the 26-year old Ovilla resident told the New York Times. “I’m practicing hard, I’m putting everything I have into it. So he’s enjoying this.” Both Carters hold the high school record for shot put, making them the only such father-daughter duo in American sports.
Marquise Goodwin, long jump
“The thing I’m looking forward to the most? Getting on that medal stand,” the UT wide receiver told the Houston Chronicle. Goodwin, 21, has long been a star on both the track and the gridiron, and is very defensive about being pinned as one or the other. “I’m both,” he insists. The Rowlett-raised, two-time NCAA long jump champion will return to Austin on August 11 to resume football practice with the Horns. It is safe to say he is likely having a more interesting summer than his teammates.
Sanya Richards-Ross, women’s 200 and 400
Though former UT-Austin track & field star Sanya Richards-Ross suggested last week that Olympic athletes should be compensated for their work, the Jamaica-born runner is taking little for granted in London. In her third Olympics, Richards-Ross, 27, will aim for gold in the 200 meters and 400 meters, a feat only three runners have accomplished. “I know it’s going to be tough,” she told the Washington Post. “Every athlete that has attempted it, you can see it’s not an easy task. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Cammile Adams, swimming
Adams became a master of the 200 butterfly after recovering from her 2010 rotator cuff surgery. The 20-year-old education major hails from Cypress and swims competitively for Texas A&M. The Houston Chronicle reported that after Adams won the ticket to London in the Olympic Swimming Trials (clocking the fifth-fastest time in the history of American swimming), there was one person she wanted to celebrate with—her twin sister, Ashley, who also swims at A&M. “I think my sister (Ashley) might be more excited than I am,” (Cammile) Adams said. “She’s on cloud nine, and I don’t think she’s coming off,” the Olympian told the Chronicle.