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  Still Pursuing His Dream, Boardman Native Mike Mannozzi Qualifies For A Third Time For U.S. Olympic Racewalking Trials  
  February 7, 2019 Edition  
      SANTEE, CALIF.---“In third place, winning the bronze medal is Michael Mannozzi, The Italian Stallion, a footwear advisor and father of two. The favorite son of Notre Dame College and Boardman, Ohio.”
      Those words of race director and Rock’ n’ Roll Marathon Series co-founder, Tracy Sundlun echoed throughout Santee Trolley Square during the awards presentation for the USA Track and Field 50k race walk national championships.
      Perhaps more impressive is the 2005 Boardman High School graduate had relocated three times in the past two years while rehabbing a lingering injury, on top of working and supporting a young family in Toronto, Canada.
      His return to national level competition was aided by the mentorship of Marc Mundell, a two- time Olympian and 50k record holder for the continent of Africa.
      Mundell helped create a training plan that began with manageable training and consistency that increased in volume to withstand the 31.1 mile event. This method resulted in Mannozzi winning three of his four previous championship events. Also playing a vital role in getting Mannozzi back to race form is Muscle Activation Therapy (MAT) specialist, Sue-Anne Watkins of Toronto, who began helping rehab his injury in fall 2017.
      “Getting to the start line of this race symbolized much more for my family and I as nothing in life seems impossible after one completes a 50k. Maintaining a consistent training regimen in Canada’s winter with my other responsibilities was a success even before the championship race,” Mannozzi said..
      The goal for Mannozzi was to finish and better the 5:15 needed to qualify for the 2020 Olympic trials. Many international and domestic athletes, including numerous Olympians registered with hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
      On Saturday, Jan. 26, race day temps rose to 82-degrees before the finish. It was full sun with a hot wind gusting on and off. This took a considerable toll as only 21 of the 36 starters completed the 31.1 mile race, an attrition rate of 31 per cent.
      “Recalling my consistent training and trust in the race plan my coach and I agreed to, based off heart rate in training and ‘hold’ until 45km, paid off,” Mannozzi said.
      At the marathon mark, Mannozzi found himself in fourth place and began to cut the two minute lead (roughly 400 meters) with each lap on Ian Whatley, who encouraged Mannozzi when he passed him.
      Whatley is a major proponent of race walking and possesses the only race walk training center in the United States.
      “Despite pain in my right hamstring, and fatigue at this point I calmly accepted the pressure and focused on my technique to take third place.
      “This achievement symbolized overcoming all my family has been through with my son Matthew being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and for me to be an example to my sons through consistent work towards your goals paying off. I am proud to successfully represent our home.
      “Making the podium with an Olympic Trials qualifying time of 5:07.56, Mannocci said he is incredibly proud to be the first man from the greater Youngstown area to qualify for a third Olympic trials in track and field.
      His persistence is his sport has resulted in local and national support for his career, including national sponsors---Shore Athletic Club of New Jersey, Reshod Walking Shoes, Team IBB and XX2i Optics; and local sponsors Boardman Pizza Joes (Mario LaMacra), Second Sole, Cirelli Jewelers, Classic Tent and Party Rental, ORE (Outdoor Equipment), Youngstown Road Runners and Knuckle Busters of Struthers.
      Winning the 50k national championship was Matthew Forgues with a time of 4:27.28, while Pabol Gomez was second at 5:01.51 and Mannozzi took third at 5:07.51. Whatley finished fourth at 5:10.45.
      Mannozzi’s third place finish earned the racewalker $4000.
      He frequently says, “I am thankful for the ability to walk faster than most people in the world can run! The race is always in front of you, never behind you.”
      Mannozzi’s racewalking career began at Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Oh. where he came from a lap behind to stage a miracle finish and win the 2010 NAIA 3000 meter race walk.
      He qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2012 where he placed ninth in ther 50k race walk and fifth in the 20k race walk; and also qualified in 2016 where he placed third in the 50k (but did not post a qualifying time) and also took seventh in the 20k.
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