Manny Huerta’s Costa Rican Training Grounds

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  • Published May 9, 2012
  • Updated May 9, 2012 at 12:08 PM UTC
Photo: Mercado

Manny Huerta has been training on an active volcano in Costa Rica.

Chasing the Olympic dream can take athletes to many unique places.

For Manuel “Manny” Huerta, an American triathlete hoping to qualify for the London 2012 Games, it put him on Irazu, an active volcano in Costa Rica.

Huerta’s Olympic journey started in Cuba, where, as a young boy, he watched the Games on state-run television. He also became an avid swimmer and runner, but his opportunities were limited under the communist regime.

“Being born in a communist country, if you are not with the government, you have very little chance of having any type of success,” Huerta said.

The stakes changed in 1997, when he fled with his mother and sister to Miami as political refugees. Once they had settled in the United States, Huerta continued swimming and running before joining a group that provided sports equipment to inner-city youths. Then, at age 15, he developed a new fascination — the triathlon.

“At first it was to stay in shape for the upcoming swimming and cross-country seasons,” Huerta said. But as he got better at triathlons, he realized he was better at it on a national level than he was at swimming or running. So he turned his full attention to the triathlon in 2005.

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