Manuel Huerta proudly waves the US flag after placing on the US Olympic Team and a victory at the San Diego International Triathlon Union competition. (Larry Rosa/ITU)

Olympic Profile: Manuel Huerta, the nomadic triathlete

Olympic triathlon competitor, Manuel Huerta, never stays long in one place. He travels back and forth between Costa Rica and Argentina every six months to train for the London Olympics 2012.

“It helps my hemoglobin and hematocrit levels,” Huerta explains. “When those levels get higher they increase my red blood cell count to carry more oxygen.”

Now 28, Huerta conquers almost a mile of ocean, 25 miles on a bike, and more than six miles on foot. He trains more than 20 hours a week to complete each event several times for the US Triathlon Team.

“The life of a triathlete is 100 percent dedication,” Huerta says. “My weekends are based on training. I cannot go out with my friends late because training is my priority in the morning.”

Huerta’s dedication scored him the USA Triathlon’s Elite Athlete of the Year for the 2011 title.  Soon after, he won a silver medal at the Pan American Games. In two International Triathlon Union competitions, he won first place—twice.  This is all within the past two years. Huerta has set his sights for London and shows no signs of slowing down.

Olympic Profile: Manuel Huerta, the nomadic triathlete itusdmenbycruse0786hr e1339423081287 people NBC Latino News

Huerta (second from the right) closing in on the finish line at the San Diego International Triathlon Union competition. (Rich Cruse/ITU)

Huerta began his journey at 6-years-old when he started swimming in Cuba.

“My family—my mother, my sisters and I, moved to the US when I was 13 to have a better life,” Huerta says.

Once in the U.S., he entered in his first triathlon at 15. He decimated the competition and won first place in his age group; he competed against other people that ranged from 15 to 19-years-old. After the event, he “fell in love with the sport.”

Since then he has built his life around training. As a yearlong athlete, he swam and ran varsity. He was awarded a cross-country scholarship to Florida Atlantic University. His education and lifestyle rely on his infatuation with the triathlon. He even met his girlfriend Pierina while training.

“We work together. We get up at the same,” he says. “Our lives are in sync. We live together, swim together, and travel together. She is always there and always understands.”

Olympic Profile: Manuel Huerta, the nomadic triathlete itusdmenbycruse1043hr e1339423066141 people NBC Latino News

Huerta reacts once he is told he made the US Olympic Triathlon Team for the first time. (Rich Cruse/ITU)

Huerta has been taught to prioritize whatever will bring him success, even is that means sacrificing family time.

“As an athlete you have to make the choice to go all in,” he says. “As much as I miss my family in Miami, I know they will see me compete in London. Along with my girlfriend I will I have all the support I need to succeed.”

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