Dowagiac’s link to OlympicsPublished 10:39am Thursday, February 18, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Manuel Guerra will be in good company with some household names at the end of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Manny, 42, of Plymouth, Minn., is a member of the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony, along with: Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992 Olympic gold medalist in ladies figure skating; Bonnie Blair, five-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time bronze medalist in speed skating; Peter Axelson, U.S. Air Force veteran and world champion mono skier; Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary; David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada; and Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security Secretary and delegation head.
Manny, whose sister, Marci, operated a variety store in downtown Dowagiac, was the goalie of the 2002 Paralympic ice sledge hockey team which won the gold medal.
Growing up in south Chicago, he was diagnosed with polio at 18 months.
Ice sledge hockey was designed to allow physically disabled participants to play ice hockey.
Known as sled hockey in the United States, it was invented in the 1960s in Stockholm, Sweden, at a rehabilitation center.
International ice sledge hockey became an official event in 1994 for the Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Sweden claimed the first gold medal.
In 1998, in Nagano, Japan, Norway, won the gold medal.
Canada took silver, with Sweden capturing bronze.
In 2002, the United States won the gold medal in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Guerra as netminder. Norway and Sweden finished second and third.
In 2006, in Torino, Italy, gold went to Canada; silver to Norway; and bronze to the United States.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, will be the first time mixed teams dispute the tournament.
The X Paralympic Winter Games offer 20 events in five sports, opening March 12 and closing March 21 in Vancouver and Whistler.
Opening ceremonies take place in BC Place Stadium.
This will be the second time for Canada to host the Paralympic Games, following the 1976 Summer Paralympics in Toronto.