SANTEE-CALIF.---Michael Mannozzi, 29, of Erskine Ave. Boardman, (now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada awaiting the birth of his first child) captured third place at the USA Track and Field 50 km Olympic Trials Race Walk with a personal best time of 4:31.46.
Winning the trials race was 38-year-old John Nunn of Bonsall, Calif., whose personal best time of 4:03.21 uniquely qualified him to compete in this summer’s Rio Olympic Games, that will be his third Olympic appearance. Capturing silver was rising star Nick Christie, of El Cajon, Calif. in a time of 4:22.30.
Both Christie and Mannozzi have until May 8 to chase the standard qualifying time (4:06) for the 2016 Olympic Games. The 50k Race Walk is the longest foot race contested in the Olympic Games, at 31.1 miles, it is almost five miles longer than the marathon. The trials race was 40 laps of a 1.25k (roughly three-fourths of a mile) circuit. Weather conditions were unseasonably warm with temperatures rising into the 80’s with bright sunshine.
The top three finishers and Matt Forgues, who finished fourth at the Trials, two minutes behind Mannozzi, met the standards to earn them a spot on the USA Team for World Race Walking Team Championships. The event will be contested in Rome, Italy on May 7-8.
Nunn and Christie were shoulder-to-shoulder through the first 28 laps of the race, when Christie surged into first for a lap, before falling back again.
At the time, both runners were meeting the qualifying time.
Christie said after the race that he crashed after 31 laps and had to fight through a lot of pain to claim second.
“Racing in these conditions just two and a half days after training in 10 degree weather was a huge challenge. Having the opportunity to stand on the podium for capturing third place was a dream come true and an enormous improvement over my ninth place finish four years ago,” Mannozzi said.
“This is quite a breakthrough for me, but I know that I can’t get too proud because I haven’t met the standard and that’s the name of the game. I congratulate John (Nunn) and Nick (Christie) for a valiant effort, he added.
Christie lapped Mannozzi three times during the race. In the final 10k, Mannozzi had un-lapped himself twice. Christie said after the race he thought Mannozzi was going to catch him.
Mannozzi began race walking while at Notre Dame College in Euclid, Oh, and staged a stunning win in 2010 in the 3,000-meter NAIA championship, coming from a lap behind late in the race to claim the title. Since that time he has amassed ten national race walking titles.
Mannozzi is one of the few elite athletes listed in two events in this year’s Olympic Trials.
He is ranked eighth in the United States in the 20 km racewalk and will compete June 30 in Salem, Ore. in the Olympic Trials at that distance. The qualifying time is set at 1:23. Mannozzi best time to date in the 20k is about ten minutes off the standard, at 1:31.11.
One of his major sponsors is Pizza Joe’s, Market St. in Boardman, operated by Mario LaMarca. Others include Advanced Chiropractic and ORE, both of Boardman; the Achilles Run Shop in Mentor, Oh., and Power Bar
Pictured: MICHAEL MANNOZZI, CROSSES THE finish line in third place at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Santee, Calif. in the 50k race walking championships. Mannozzi, dubbed ‘The Italian Stallion of USA Track and Field,’ looks forward to improving his time when he competes on the USA team at the World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome, Italy May 7-8.