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With Leo Manzano's Silver, U.S. Claims First 1,500 Medal Since 1968

Leo Manzano, 27, came from behind with a last-minute kick to claim silver in the men's 1,500-meter final, today. That's no small feat for the Mexican-born American runner: He is the first American to medal in the metric mile since Jim Ryun won a silver in 1968.

As USA Today put it, this was a strange race. The winner, Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi, had been kicked out of the race, after the international track authority ruled that he had failed to run competitively during the first round of the 800 meters race. Makhloufi was readmitted into the 1500 after he showed that he was nursing a bum knee.

With a time of 3:34.08, he took gold. Manzano came second at 3:34.79; Morocco's Abdalaati Iguider finished at 3:35.13. The American Matthew Centrowitz missed the bronze by just four-hundreth of a second.

USA Today says that these Olympics mark a kind of revival for U.S. distance runners:

On the heels of Galen Rupp's silver medal in the 10,000 meters, U.S. distance runners are on a, well, run.

"'You think about Rupp, you think about Matt Centrowitz and myself,' Manzano said. 'We've really brought distance running around the corner. I definitely hope it's a turning point.'"

On the track Manzano celebrated with the U.S. flag and the Mexican flag.

"I'm really excited, so thrilled and so pumped. It was an insane race. It was probably the toughest race physically and mentally that I've ever been in," Manzano said in a statement.

This was certainly a surprise win for Manzano, who posted his season best this race. In the U.S. National Championship, he took first place with a time of 3:35.75.

USA Track and Field says Manzano's time is also an American Olympic record.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.