MANILA, FEBRUARY 11, 2010 (STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson - There won’t be a Filipino athlete representing the country at the 21st Winter Olympics opening tomorrow in Vancouver but Amanda Evora, who’s pairing with Mark Ladwig on the US team in the pairs event of figure skating, could be a source of national pride just the same as she is of Filipino descent.

At the 1948 London Olympics, Vicki Manalo won gold medals in the 10-meter platform and three-meter springboard diving events but alas, the victories were credited to the US, not the Philippines. Manalo was born in the US to a Filipino father, Teofilo, and an English mother Gertrude Taylor. Manalo would’ve been the first and only Olympic gold medalist from the Philippines if only she competed for her father’s homeland.

Manalo, who married her diving coach Lyle Draves, went to Manila after her Olympic triumph and was feted by President Quirino at Malacañang. Today, she is 85 years old, living in the Bay Area. In 2006, a two-acre park in San Francisco was named in her honor.

If Evora captures a gold in Vancouver, it will be credited to the US, not the Philippines just like Manalo’s feat in 1948.

Evora is a full-blooded Filipina. Her father Vicente, a chemical engineer, is from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, and went to UP before earning a degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, at Columbia University in New York in 1978. He now works as the economics and planning advisor at the Hovensa oil refinery in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. The refinery is the largest in the Americas.

Evora’s mother is Mary Anne Mamuri of Ilagan, Isabela. She is a 1968 commerce graduate of UST and migrated to the US in May 1972.

Romy Nones contacted Evora’s father, his Tau Alpha fraternity brother at UP, for information on the figure skater and forwarded an e-mail revealing details of her birth.

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“Amanda was conceived in Bahrain and born in New York,” wrote the skater’s father to Nones. “Anne travelled to New York to avoid giving birth in Bahrain. She lived her first two years in Bahrain. Our family moved back to the US, in Dallas, in 1986, then Virginia in 1990 and Houston in 1995.”

According to her father, the five-foot, 99-pound Evora – the youngest of three children – started skating when she was six. At 16, she moved to Bradenton, Florida with her mother and began competing in pairs. When not competing or practicing, Evora is in a University of South Florida classroom taking up a business administration course or in a rink teaching ice-skating on a part-time basis.

Evora, 25, and Ladwig, 29, finished second at the US Figure Skating Championships in Spokane last month to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett took first place, also booking a ticket to Vancouver. Barrett is Evora’s long-time boyfriend.

“I have competed against Jeremy for many years,” said Evora, quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “Nothing has changed. We do know when it’s boyfriend-girlfriend time and when it’s skating time. We’ve learned our boundaries for each other, when to be there for each other, when not to be. Personal is personal and business is business. It makes complete sense in my mind. I know it seems kind of odd to a lot of people.”

In an Associated Press report, it was mentioned that Evora and Ladwig are a work in progress.

“Their performance wasn’t clean but it delighted the audience which was on its feet before the final notes of their music trailed off,” said the report. “Their triple twist was beautiful and their carry lift was truly impressive, looking like something out of ‘Cirque du Soleil.’ Amanda was sobbing so hard afterward she couldn’t even speak. Ladwig wasn’t quite as emotional but he was no less moved.”

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Evora and Ladwig joined the Grand Prix circuit in the 2005-06 season. Evora used to skate with Michael Adler while Ladwig’s former partners were Kelsey Sollom and Keri Lynn Blakinger.

The US hasn’t won a medal in pairs since Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard brought home a bronze at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games. That year, two other US tandems finished fifth and 10th. The Soviet Union’s three pairs placed first, second and fourth.

Denney and Barrett were ninth in the World Championships last year, an indication of how far from the top the US is ranked in pairs. Sports Illustrated recently announced its medal picks for pairs in Vancouver and listed no US team in the top three.

Tipped to claim the gold were China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo. Another Chinese duo – Pang Qing and Tong Jian – was picked for the silver while Germany’s Alona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were chosen for the bronze. Sports Illustrated noted that Russians have won every gold medal in pairs at the Winter Olympics since 1964.

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Mark Ladwig (born May 6, 1980 in Fargo, North Dakota) is an American pair skater. He competes with Amanda Evora. They are the 2010 U.S. silver medalists and 2007 & 2009 pewter medalists. The 2005/2006 season was their first on the Grand Prix. At the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, they were nominated to represent the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Ladwig previously skated with Kelsey Sollom and Keri Blakinger while at the University of Delaware Figure Skating Club in Newark, Delaware. He married Janet Marie Beverley on August 4th, 2006, and their son Holden was born in 2009.

Ladwig served on the 2009-10 U.S. Figure Skating Athletes Advisory Committee and was the pairs vice-chair of the 2008-09 Athletes Advisory Committee.

If somehow Evora and Ladwig score an upset in Vancouver, Filipinos will be as ecstatic as Americans.

Gibo, Angping head cast in Sunday run (The Philippine Star) Updated February 11, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Some 10,000 runners, including Philippine Sports Commission chair Harry Angping and presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro are expected to participate in the PSC’s “Run for Your Heart” starting and ending at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday.

Angping said the 10-km race, which starts at 6 a.m., will mark the government sports funding agency’s 20th anniversary and the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The one-day festivity is sponsored by the PSC, XTEP Corp. of China and Pepsi-Gatorade Corp. in cooperation with the Filipino-Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation.

A number of running groups headed by the Greenhills Running Club, Pinoy Ultra runners, Philippine Skyrunners Association and the Ateneo Law School as well as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the national police, and civic organizations like Jaycees, Lions and Rotary clubs are also expected to join the event.

Finishers and participants in the event, which will have 3k and 5k categories, will receive race shirts and bibs with cash prizes at stake in the 10k event, including P10,000, P5,000 and P3,000 for the top three finishers.

Unilab, Enervon, Omega Painkiller Pro and Casino Regular Alcohol, Circular and Lung Care Plus, Mang Inasal, Rudy Project, WS Sports, Bayview Park Hotel, Orchid Garden Suites, Inasal at iba pa, Ever Bilena, Accel, Everlast, Milo, Nestle Phils., McDonald’s-Harrison Plaza, Mary Kay, Purefoods, Zest-O and C2 Iced Tea are the event’s other backers.

For details, contact Michelle Balunan at tel. Nos. 525-4336 or 525-0808 local 158 and 148. – Joey Villar

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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