TOKYO, JAPAN (KTSM) – What you see on TV from the 2020 Olympics is all about the athletes, but as with anything, it takes a village to get the games off the ground, especially this year.
One of the people tasked with making sure things run smoothly for USA Track and Field comes from El Paso: Burges graduate Manny Bautista.
“We have a lot of people and moving parts to make our athletes perform at their peak level,” said Bautista.
The Events Manager for USA Track and Field in Tokyo, Bautista grew up in El Paso. He’s currently working his second Games after making his Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing.
“I’ve always dreamed big. Whatever the highest mountain there is, I want to climb it and in my sport it’s the Olympics,” he said.
Long hours and busy days; that’s every day for Bautista at the Olympics. Most of the time you can find him on the warm-up track, but he wears a lot of bibs as event manager.
From managing COVID-19 guidelines, to being the liaison between Tokyo officials and USA coaches and athletes; or even tasks as simple as making sure 100 meter silver medalist Fred Kerley has his shoes before the 100m final (a purely hypothetical situation), Bautista does it all for Team USA.
“It sounds easy but it’s really intense,” he said. We try to leave nothing to chance and think of every possible detail that could happen.”
Bautista got his start as a distance runner at Burges in the 1970s, where he realized running laps – because, he says, he was always in trouble – that he never got tired.
Punishment turned into a decorated high school career, then a track scholarship at Cal Poly. The Olympic marathon trials came next, and eventually a coaching career in California, before he caught on with USA Track and Field in 1996. He’s well-traveled, but even at the Olympics, Bautista carries El Paso in his heart.
“When I have my backpack going into the stadium, there will be the El Paso strong button that my mom got me after the Walmart incident,” Bautista said. “That’s going to Tokyo with me, so I never forgot where I came from.”
He’s spent over 20 years traveling the world with team USA, but Bautista says he still needs his Chico’s Tacos fix now and then . He’ll finally get it later this month when he returns from Tokyo.