The report hit it right: Ice skater Michael Christian Martinez is a true rarity in his tropical country, not just one in a million, but one in a hundred million.
Unknown to majority of his countrymen (in the Philippines, pop. 100 million), Martinez is scheduled to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics late Thursday night.
Martinez, 17, from Muntinlupa, is the first listed full-blooded Pinoy figure skater to compete in the Winter Games. He’s entered in the men’s short program and the men’s free skating event.
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It was no easy slide, but a bumpy ride, both painful and bloody, from a mall skating rink, where Martinez first tried the demanding discipline, all the way to the Winter Games in Russia.
Winchel Campos, roving international correspondent, wrote from California for philboxing.com that Martinez had more than enough scars and hurt to back his stoic ride. Campos wrote of fractured ankle, torn ligament in the knee and ankle.
“He has the scars to show the pain of having his own metal ice skates cut through his flesh while still a relative unknown,” Campos said.
“His skates slashed and cut through his thighs, the wound taking two months to heal.”
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Ranked 20th in the world, Martinez “is the only Filipino who has done a triple Salchow and live to tell how wonderful it is to become flightless and frightless.”
Salchow, noted Campos, is normally “approached from a forward outside three-turn on the left foot for a counterclockwise jump.
On the left back inside edge after the turn, the skater checks the rotation momentarily with the right foot extended behind, then initiates the jump by swinging the right leg forward and around with a wide scooping motion.” Wow! The writer is right. Martinez’s event is not fit for mere mortals.
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This only means that the carnival atmosphere in the competition, together with lilting sounds, betrays the immense agony a competitor had to go through in order to make it to centerstage.
Meanwhile, Campos wrote that he got reports the Martinezes had had to resort to mortgaging their house in order to pay for their travel and training needs.
“Several letters and attempts to reach out to President Noynoy Aquino have turned futile and fruitless,” Campos said.
“The Philippine Olympic Committee will have to use a microscope in order to find the talent in the kid, then will take years in order to be processed.”
On the eve of Martinez’s competition, Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia denied that the government did not offer assistance to the country’s lone athlete in Sochi.
Garcia said he was made to understand that Martinez’s training and campaign were shouldered by businessman Hans Sy and the SM malls where Martinez started out as a skater.
Garcia claimed they have not received any formal request for assistance from the Martinez family.