LOS ANGELES, California/USA (Friday, April 27, 2012) ? Hawaiian natural-footer Malia Manuel, 17, has made a statement on her opening campaign on the ASP Women?s World Championship Tour, leading her rookie class as the first freshman to make a final while posting several top results in the first four events this year. In addition to her flare on the Top 17 stage, Manuel has done serious damage in Australia over the last three months, finishing runner-up in multiple ASP 6-Star events. ESPN caught up with the talented rookie to talk about her first impressions of the big leagues, and this? is their story?
She started the season with a third place at the Australian Open. Then it was a solid fifth in her maiden World Tour event. She followed that up by taking runner up at a pair of 6-stars, and fifth place at Bells. Last week, she made the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic. All season long, she’s been rolling right over the competition. And she was recently in the Wall Street Journal. So who is this girl?
It’s not like 18-year-old Malia Manuel is a new name to womens surfing. After all, she became the youngest shredder to ever win the US Open when she aced the circus at Huntington in 2008 (at 14-years-old.) Born into a Hawaiian family steeped in surfing tradition, she was on a board at age two.
And now, as a rookie, she currently sits in the No. six slot on the Womens Tour, just below 2011 World Champ Carissa Moore and just above another rookie phenom, Laura Enever. But how about the amount of times she’s come up against current World No. one Stephanie Gilmore? And she’s held her off at the Beachley Classic and Margaret River. The young upstarts are proving a point this year and we caught up with Malia Manuel on Kauai to get a better handle on this giant slayer.
ESPN: So that first leg of the tour must have been quite a blur for you?
Malia Manuel: Three months flew by in Australia. I’ve never been away from home that long so I was anticipating what it would be like. Doing seven events back to back to back was a challenge, but I managed to stay healthy and it all was worth it.
For the full ESPN interview with Manuel log on to ESPN.com
For additional information on Malia view her full ASP PROFILE.