YOUNG gymnast Leanne Marie Manning of OneWorld Montessori House has big dreams in her heart.
Manning drew the spotlight after setting the tone in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) with two gold medals at the Negros Oriental State University (Norsu) gym, hours before the regional meet’s official opening ceremony in Dumaguete City.
While other athletes were lining up for the opening day parade, Manning, who represents the 26-time overall defending champion Cebu City Niños, already has medals from rhythmic gymnastics (RG) winning the free hand and rope events.
It will be Manning’s last year in the elementary division and she wants to go out with a bang in the step-ladder sporting event organized by the Department of Education (DepEd).
“My goal for this year is to win a gold medal in the Palarong Pambansa,” the 11-year-old Manning told SunStar Cebu in an interview before she competes in the ball event.
Manning won six gold medals in last year’s Cviraa in Tagbilaran City, Bohol but fell short of getting a medal in the Palarong Pambansa.
“I really trained hard for this year. Gibalik-balik nako ang routine until I got it,” said Manning, whose love for gymnastics started four years ago when she saw gymnasts on the internet.
Manning’s trainer, Cebu’s renowned gymnasts coach Darlene Dela Pisa, said in a separate interview that Manning actually has a good shot in getting that gold medal in the Palarong Pambansa.
“Actually, she (Manning) has a chance; it will now depend on her conditioning. She had a good performance in her previous events like the Batang Pinoy, Milo Little Olympics, Manila Open and Cebu City Olympics,” said Dela Pisa.
“Before we went to Palarong Pambansa last year, the team attended a training in Singapore. I observed that training, which was spearheaded by a Russian coach. Right now, we are using that kind of training,” she said.
Manning said that her ultimate dream was to make it to the national team and reach the Olympics.
Dela Pisa said that one of the national team coaches already showed interest in Manning after seeing the girl compete.
Aside from her athletic dream, Manning wants to become a doctor.
“I’ve learned a lot in this sport that I can use in life like discipline and (having the) right attitude. I also gained confidence since I used to be shy,” said Manning of Banawa, Cebu City.
On the other hand, Cebu Province is on a mission to get back to second place in this year’s Cviraa. The team is composed of 768 athletes, coaches and staff.
“We want to raise the rank of Cebu Province. We have the full support from the Cebu Provincial Government and also the Department of Education Cebu Province division,” said division coordinator Nenita Jaralve.
Jaralve said the Cebu Provincial Government had provided P12-million budget for the team, which was used for the equipments, uniform, meals, snacks and allowance of the athletes.
Cebu Province registered wins in the elimination round of the volleyball elementary against Siquijor, volleyball secondary boys against Talisay City and futsal secondary girls over Siquijor.
Cviraa officially opened on Sunday, Feb. 17, with 19 divisions joining the opening ceremony. The winners in the regional event will advance to the Palarong Pambansa, which will be held in Davao City.