Manzano's To Figure In Salt Lake City
David Kirkpatrick, Canberra Times
3 July 2001

Missing out on the last Winter Olympics was a tough break, but it might have been the best break figure skater Miriam Manzano ever had. Manzano, 26, took a sabbatical and gained a fresh perspective on why she was competing in the first place. Although she qualified for the Nagano Olympics, officials only decided to send one skater, and that was Sydney's Joanne Carter.

It was a blow that had Manzano questioning her involvement in a sport that had been a dominant part of her life since the age of 12. 'After the Olympics I took a step back and it was really hard to get back on the ice,' she said. 'I didn't know what I should be doing and the direction I should take.

I didn't realise that it would turn into a two-year break.' Manzano came to the realisation her parents could no longer afford to support her competitive career and she would have to do something to help herself. She went out and found meaningful employment with the Attorney-General's Department, under the Olympic Job Opportunity Program, and has never looked back.

'When things become really intense and you're not quite cracking the No 1 position it can get really disheartening,' she said. 'When that happens you can lose track of why you started skating in the first place and that is the love that you have for it. 'I needed time to do something different and now that I've got back on the ice I'm really enjoying it.'

Manzano has put herself in line for selection for the Salt Lake City Olympics, but it's not going to be easy. Firstly, she will skate-off against Carter and Stephanie Zhang in Sydney later this month. From there, one person will be selected to compete at an Olympic qualifying event in Zagreb.

Only the top six place-getters will get to go to Salt Lake City. It would fulfil a lifetime dream if Manzano made it through the selection process. 'It would be the cherry on the cake,' she said.

'I've been to world championships and junior world championships and I think that the Olympics would be the ultimate for me.' Manzano believes she is skating better than ever with the support of the ACT Academy of Sport and long-time coach Reg Park. 'I've been doing well overseas and I've been feeling really competitive overseas,' she said.

'While I'm on this high I'm going to keep riding this wave and see where it takes me.' Manzano has already skated at the Salt Lake City Olympic venue. She competed at a four continents event in February and finished 14th out of 32.

'That was like the world championships, the standard was huge. If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will.'