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Palace cheers Olympic skater Michael Martinez

/ 08:58 PM February 15, 2014

Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines waves to spectators as he waits for his results after the men’s free skate figure skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. AP /Ivan Sekretarev

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang is heartily applauding Michael Christian Martinez for making history as the first Filipino figure skater to represent the country in the Winter Olympics.

A Palace spokesperson described the 17-year-old boy as a “trailblazer,” saying he should expect commensurate support from the government and private sector for his performance in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics’ men’s figure skating finals late Saturday.

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Although he finished 19th, Martinez dazzled the crowd, earning the high approbation of his countrymen.

“It’s so delighting, and we and entire nation convey our full support to him because it’s true  he’s the first Filipino to represent the Philippines in the winter games. And really, perhaps, for all of us, he’s a real trailblazer,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview.

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“Undeniably, his performance in Sochi will attract more people to donate to his cause or to his training because it’s expensive to train for an Olympics,” said Valte.

Valte said Filipinos were blown away by Martinez’ performance in his final free skate routine, a stab at Olympic glory that lasted for under five minutes.

“So undeniably this will attract more attention for him and hopefully, the donors from the private sector also will come,” said Valte of Martinez, the lone Philippine competitor in the 2014 Winter Olympics who advanced to the medal round of the men’s figure skating competition.

Valte agreed that Martinez had a bright future, as he’s now part of the “elite” breed of Olympians.

Noting that Martinez is set to receive a $10,000 bonus from business tycoon and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan, Valte said, “I think there were many private companies who quietly gave their support, at least for his finances.”

She noted that the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Ice Skating Union, a private entity, had provided some sort of financial support to Martinez.

She clarified that there was no letter from Martinez’ mother, Maria Teresa, seeking financial support from Malacañang.

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“When we had a check done with Malacañang records—where all the correspondence passes through—we don’t have a record of the mother writing to the Office of the President,” said Valte.

But moving forward, training for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be a different story.

“You know, with the attention that he has received and the heart that he has shown everybody… perhaps [his financial] situation would improve,” said Valte. “It’s a long road to 2018, and we wish him the best of luck.”

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TAGS: Figure skating, Michael Christian Martinez, Michael Martinez, Sochi 2014, Sochi Olympics, Sports, Winter Olympics
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