Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rideau High star loves life on the run

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.07.05
SECTION: Special Section
BYLINE: Martin Cleary
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen / RachelManyonga, a Zimbabwe-born student-athlete from Rideau High School, played seven interscholastic sports and was named Rideau's senior female athlete of the year, an award that brought tears to her eyes.; Photo: (Kevin Shonefield); Photo: (Danay Baker-Andresen); Photo: (Daniel Hinsperger); Photo: (Katrina Vandenberg); Photo: (Brent DeVries); Photo: (Alex Vaduva); Photo: (Lianne Bradley); Photo: (Matt Solheim); Photo: (Felicia Janulewicz); Photo: (Andrew Legassick); Photo: (Katie Heckman); Photo: (Cayse Ruiter); Photo: (Lindsay McFarlane); Photo: (Paul Nezan); Photo: (Lisa Grison); Colour Photo: (Carly Klassen); Colour Photo: (Patrick Bush); Colour Photo: (Daniel Lufty); Photo: (Janna Cory); Photo: (James Marshall)
NOTE: Athletes of the Year


Rideau High star loves life on the run: Rachel Manyonga, Rideau


Rachel Manyonga loves to run and run and run.

However, the Zimbabwe-born student-athlete from Rideau High School also has an open mind when it comes to high school sports in general. The 2004-05 school year was a perfect example as she played seven interscholastic sports and enjoyed them all, well, almost all.

As a result of her enthusiasm for a wide variety of sports and the occasional success, she was named senior female athlete of the year at Rideau. The award left her shocked and in tears.

Besides being an honours student in the classroom, she brought balance to her life by participating in touch football, wrestling, badminton, track and field, basketball, volleyball and cross country running.

Running was one of her favourite sports as an elementary school student in Zimbabwe. It was common for her to finish first or second in sprints.

"I like to run," Manyonga says proudly. "It's a sport that represents who I am."

That attitude explains how one day last spring, during a touch football game, she earned the nickname Monster.

As a defender situated on the far side of the field, Manyonga watched an opposing receiver catch a pass.

It looked like a certain touchdown until Manyonga reacted, ran diagonally across Rideau's half of the field and caught the receiver at the five-yard line.

"I came off the field and everyone called me a Monster," Manyonga said about her big play in the team's 2-2-2 season.

In track and field, though, the sprinter's season was hindered by pain in her legs.

In the fall, she tried cross country running, but wasn't keen because she couldn't get over sprinting at the start, becoming tired in the middle and sprinting at the finish. She threatened to quit after every race, but always returned for the next one.

Wrestling was one of her most rewarding sports as she earned a bronze medal in the 64-kilogram class of the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association championships. It was her eighth medal in two years.

Manyonga didn't like badminton because she played doubles and blamed herself for most of the lost points.

Although she admitted to "not really being good at basketball," she contributed as a guard to Rideau's 7-5 season in the tier 2 league.

Rideau's tier 2 volleyball year, which ended 2-8, was hurt early with an exodus of players.

"I got to learn ... I was capable of doing different sports," Manyonga said. "Everybody knows me, but I don't know everybody. My brother, Rodney, went through my yearbook and said: 'The whole book is filled with you. You're everywhere'."


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