To see him at 13 when he was handing out water at races and couldnt speak English and to see him now, an Olympian, its unbelievable, Pozo said. He always came back to our races. Hed get there early and help set up, then win the event, then help clean up after.
The Pozos couldnt resist coming to London but they suffered as Huerta suffered on the four laps of the 6.2-mile run.
Ive never felt that sick in a race, said Huerta, 28, who thinks a salad was the culprit. By the time I got to the run my brain was starting to quit. It was the longest 10K of my life, but I had to finish.
Cardenas, 50, felt pain for her son, looking pale and losing minutes each time he passed. It wasnt easy for her to make her first trip to Europe, a year after surgery and chemotherapy for melanoma.
I wanted to jump over the fence and give him a push, she said, just as she had 22 days after his problematic birth, when she dipped him in the ocean and he came up like he should have come out of the womb, crying and fighting, she said.
Vamos, mi hijo! she shouted.
She said it was she who used to pull him, to the pool in Havana and then to better opportunities in Miami, in the process giving up her job as a physics professor to become a waitress at two restaurants, and now an instructor for Easy Method Driving School. She returns to work Thursday. Im still teaching. But I wouldnt want to teach here. Crazy driving on the wrong side!
She persevered, he could, too, Huerta thought when he wanted to collapse by the side of the Serpentine with two miles to go.
Huertas younger sister Claudia couldnt make the trip. Shes pregnant and had high blood pressure three days ago. Claudia injured her back in a boat accident while serving in the Navy in Kuwait. Doctors told her she might never walk again, but, with Huertas encouragement, shes jogging, and it helps her alleviate chronic pain.
Hes been an inspiration to many. Hes forged his own career with little sponsorship money. He lives in the same little house with his mother. He does altitude training on the side of 12,000-foot Irazu volcano in Costa Rica, staying in a farmhouse above the clouds, letting the howls of coyotes and the scent of strawberry plants lull him to sleep.
When Huerta crossed the line Tuesday in one hour, 53 minutes and 39 seconds, in 51st place, 7:14 behind winner Alistair Brownlee, he hunched over and was taken to the medical tent, where he retched again and was given two IVs as a doctor watched over him. It wasnt the race hed envisioned.
I know my friends and relatives are proud but as an athlete you come to the Olympics to be competitive, he said. I trained to be in the hunt.
He was disappointed but hell always remember Opening Ceremonies, posing with LeBron James, living in the athletes village.
Ive had a lot of ups and downs, and its the downs that have motivated me to be better, he said.
He wanted to find his mother, to let her know he was weak and dehydrated, but OK. There was something in his mind that kept him going when his body wanted to stop. It was her faith in him. He wanted to thank her for coming with him, all the way to the finish line of the Olympics.