From mall ice rink to Winter Olympics: PH’s Martinez proud of achievement

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A Russian soldier stands in front of Philippine Olympic Team members during the welcoming ceremony for the team in the Athletes Village at the Olympic Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on February 2, 2014. AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

MANILA, Philippines— To have proved that someone from a country where winter is nothing but an idea is an achievement in itself for the Philippines’ lone representative to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Michael Christian Martinez, the 17-year-old from Muntinlupa City, defied the odds to be the first-ever figure skater to carry the Philippine flag in the Winter Games.

He’s also the first representative of the sport from Southeast Asia, a region where there is only two seasons: rainy and dry.

“I feel proud because there are a lot of people that say that because we’re a tropical country; we can’t do this or we can’t do that,” Martinez told NBCOlympics.com in an interview.

“But what I say to them is that I’ll be the first one to skate in the Olympics. I’m proud of that.”

Martinez’ dreams of making it to the biggest sporting stage in the world, in fact, started in a mere recreational skating rink in a shopping mall in the often-humid Manila.

“I saw skaters doing jumps and spins on the rink at the mall. After the first time I tried it I loved the sport already,” he shared in the same interview.

But that small—not even Olympic sized—rink, which was located beside the busy foodcourt area of the mall, proved to be enough to cultivate Martinez’ gem of a talent. He eventually got better training in the United States starting in 2010.

Martinez, bucking asthma and a surplus of injuries, then started reaping the rewards of his patience and hard work and was eventually gifted a slot in the prestigious Winter Games.

“It feels great that I’m here representing the Philippines at the Olympics,” Martinez said.

“There is a lot of pressure on me because not only am I skating for my country, but for all the hard work I’ve put in the last four years.”

Originally posted: 3:06 pm | Sunday, February 9th, 2014

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  • Bino Rocha

    Para sa akin hindi importante ang manalo; pero makipaglaban ka ng buong puso sa ngalan ng bansa ay isa ng malaking karangalan. Mabuhay ka Michael!!

  • RedvD

    Is he gay like all other figure skaters?

  • Vertumnus

    116 million Filipinos and one made it to the winter Olympics. That in itself is an amazing feat but what is more amazing is getting there with only the support of one sponsor, his parents and the Philippine Skating Union. One kid to represents the flag and honor of our country and our government wouldn’t even sponsor him. What’s the matter Philippine government? Too busy stuffing your pockets with government money? Shameful!

    Good luck Michael Christian Martinez. I watched the opening ceremonies just to see you carry the Philippine flag. You do the Philippines proud!

  • Ady Co

    I am so happy for our lone Philippine Olympian to the Winter Games. Bad on you Pnoy government for not supporting him in his journey to qualify. Michael and his parents did all the effort to get him to that spot. He also won several medals abroad before Sochi and it was only this January that I heard about him ONLINE! Not even the media caught on his story while he was preparing for Sochi!!!

  • SC Kang

    Good luck and Godspeed!!!

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