Track: Former FAU cross-country athlete and current triathlete Manuel Huerta qualifies for Olympics

Rolando Rosa

FAU will be represented in the 2012 London Olympics.

Manuel Huerta, a former cross-country scholarship athlete at FAU and now a triathlete, qualified for the Olympics after placing ninth at the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego earlier this month. Huerta is joined on the U.S. team by three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper.

Huerta bounced back from an early deficit and caught up to the lead pack in the cycling portion of the race before eventually passing the other Americans in the race portion.

“I knew that it would come down to the run,” Huerta told the Miami Herald. “I was pretty much on the last pack on the swim, but I stayed positive; I stayed calm. We caught up, and then I set myself in very good position on the bike on the last couple laps, and then I went out with my heart and then gave everything I had.”

Huerta, 28, moved to Florida from Cuba in 1997 when he was 13. It will be his first Olympic appearance.

“I never, never gave up on my dream,” Huerta told the Associated Press. “I battled through so many downs and ups, like many athletes, but I knew that today it was special. I was racing in my new country and I wanted to make my dream come true. For many young Hispanics like me, who come to America with that dream, they stick to their dream and they never give up.”

Huerta was a silver medalist in the Pan-Am Games in 2011 according to his website. The 5-foot-7 123 pound Huerta resides in Miami and Costa Rica. He finished as the top American and was 25th overall on the 2012 Olympic Games course in the London WCS event (World Championship Series).