Olympian and University of Texas alum Leo “The Lion” Manzano has signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with HOKA ONE ONE – a “maximalist” shoe that hit the market three years ago and has gained traction in the ultrarunning community and now looking to reach more of the running population.
Manzano – a five-time NCAA Champion and silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics – will be in Boston next weekend to kick off the partnership around the festivities of the marathon.
In November 2012, just four months removed from achieving something on the Olympic stage no American had done since Jim Ryun 44 years prior, the then 27-year-old’s agent said contract negotiations with Nike had fallen through and they were were searching for a new sponsor. Things somewhat spiraled from there, eventually announcing he was running without a coach, a shoe agreement or a trainer. On his website, Manzano began selling shirts for $20 to help fund his training. Then last February at the US Indoor Championships, he led the field in the 1500 meters for the first five laps while wearing a plain red t-shirt and black tights before eventually fading and finishing fifth.
Over the last six weeks he’s connected with former UT track coach John Hayes and posted pictures of being back in the Longhorn weightroom with long-time strength trainer Trey Zepeda. At the Texas Relays on March 28, Manzano broke his own stadium and meet record in the 800 meters for his first victory in quite some time.
“I’m honored to represent HOKA ONE ONE. I feel blessed to have connected with such a game-changing and innovative company that is led by runners who understand the needs of runners,” he said in a released statement. “I hope to leverage this opportunity to showcase how HOKA’s brilliantly engineered products benefit runners of all distances.”
According to Jim Van Dine, HOKA ONE ONE Brand President, they’ll be working on a racing flat and spikes for the near future.
Other athletes HOKA currently sponsors include Austinite Paul Terranova, Mike Rutt (track), Nicole Shappert (track), Conrad Stoltz (triathlete), Magdalena Boulet (ultra) and Karl Metlzer (ultra).