Miriam Manzano figures titles worth cost.
By Chris Wilson.
Canberra Times, March 28, 2002

Canberra's Miriam Manzano didn't just look at the scoreboard, she has photos of it after making the finals of the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan last week. Manzano, who took out a personal bank loan to attend her first World Championships since 1995, achieved a career-best 16th placing.

Manzano, 27, said the performance had re-ignited her dream to compete at the Winter Olympics before she retired. Manzano, controversially over-looked for the past two Olympics, was chosen as Australia's sole female representative at the World Championships. Having qualified for the finals for the first time, Manzano was drawn to skate first. To her surprise and delight, she was still in front after a dozen skaters had completed their routines.

Manzano's long-time coach Reg Park kept taking photos of the scoreboard after every performance. 'He said imagine if something like a Steve Bradbury happened,' Manzano recalled, referring to the luck of Australia's first Winter Olympics gold medallist. 'I didn't expect that, but in the back of my mind I did think what if.' As it turned out, Manzano did not get Bradbury's charm. But the result has inspired her to finish her career with an Olympic debut in Italy, 2006.

Manzano has dreamed of skating at the Olympics since she was 12. 'It feels like my past life,' Manzano said. 'I took a break from the sport, but now I've come back and somehow I'm starting to be that skater I always wanted to be. 'Before I used to be so tough on myself and I saw everything as a huge obstacle. Now I'm enjoying my skating a lot more and it's coming a lot easier. 'On my way back [to Canberra] I was sitting there and thinking what now. There's no way I'm leaving it at this. It [the Olympics] isn't really that far away. It would be fantastic to finish my career with an Olympic Games.

I've got this fire - something inside you tells you to go for it. For me, I feel like I'd be cheating myself if I turned away now.' While Manzano is skating better than she ever has, she said there was a lot of room for improvement. Manzano's long program at the World Championships was choreographed in 1997. Manzano will begin work on a new routine, incorporating a difficult triple-triple which she said could propel her into the world's top 10.

'The major difference [at the World Championships] was that they had a lot of experience at that world level," she said. "Their choreography had lots of little bits and pieces. That's the next step for me, to get that together.' Manzano is hoping to be invited to the Japan Grand Prix event when the international season begins in August and she plans to defend her Australian title at the national championships in December.