Self-funded, hardworking; Darcina's a treasure

08:11, Jul 25 2014
Darcina Manuel
GO LASSIE GO: Darcina Manuel of New Zealand celebrates with her medal after winning the bronze.

On a night when the Scots went silly screaming to celebrate six judo medals, a Gisborne bloke's lone voice was probably the proudest.

Darcy Manuel and wife Rose had just watched daughter Darcina win New Zealand's first individual medal of the Commonwealth Games, and just the seventh in judo, in the under-57kg class.  

Manuel senior's booming voice could be heard loud and clear when his daughter forced Canadian former world champion Jessica Klimkait to submit.

There was a slight croak in his voice, the type when an emotional lump emerges. But he didn't care. The proud prisoner escorter's ear-to-ear grin said it all. 

"I'm so proud of her. It was so good to see a New Zealander up there, especially someone like Darcina who has given up so much to be there. She doesn't even drink or smoke; her parents do that for her," he joked.

But will she celebrate the win with a couple of quiets?

"She probably won't. I might have a lemonade or two for her. With some vodka in it."

Manuel senior hates to fly, but the chance to see his daughter represent New Zealand at the Games was too good to miss. 

"I really hate it, like, really really hate it, but I'm so glad we came over.

"Seeing Darcina up there on the podium, with her medal, that was just too much."

So who is Darcina Manuel, the 21-year-old bronze medalist who already has her eyes on the Rio Olympics? Who is the girl who, after losing her opening round at the Games, fought back through the tough repecharge route to earn a shot at a medal and then forced a cadet world champion to tap out?

She's a pint-sized powerhouse based in Perth, but still 100 per cent committed to New Zealand. 

A modest young woman who's first thought after winning a medal was that it inspired the rest of the New Zealand judo team to win more. 

She works with her father escorting prisoners. She's not funded by High Performance Sport New Zealand; she's self-funded with the aid of her parents and a handful of other "very helpful people". 

She works full-time and trains full-time.

"She's never home and it's not like she's out there partying," her father said.

"And that's one of the main reasons her mother and I are 100 per cent behind her; how much she sacrifices and how much it means to her."

Darcina said she wouldn't be where she was if it wasn't for her parents, her supportive University of Western Australia club and coach Kiki Velloza.

"This means so much to me," she said.

"All the time, all the sacrifice, this has been two years in the making. Two years hard work, this makes it all worth it. It's feels bloody good. That was my best fight of the day. I wanted it badly."

Meanwhile, Tauranga's Chanel Kavanagh finished seventh in the women's under-48kgs class. 

She was beaten by Barbadoes' Onoh-Obasi Okey after making a "silly mistake".

"It wasn't very good, I practically threw myself," she said. She then lost a close repecharge to Cameroon's Marcelle Monabang.

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