For the first time in 22 years, a Filipino athlete is representing the Philippines in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez, 17, is also the South East Asia’s first ever figure skater representative in the history of the Winter Games.
Martinez, who couldn’t play outdoor sports when he was younger because of asthma, started trying figure skating at age nine in a skating rink inside a shopping mall in the Philippines, a country with only two seasons. He chanced upon the sport while strolling around the mall in Manila with his mother. Martinez said he immediately fell in love with how the skaters were doing their jumps and spins. For three years, he would skate and take lessons once a week in the mall rink. He eventually took trainings in California under a Russian coach to further hone his skills. Before he knew it, he was joining and winning competitions in the Philippines and abroad. Despite his achievements, he never imagined that one day he would be representing the Philippines in the Winter Olympics.
Martinez will be competing tonight at the men’s short program to make it to the top 24. In an interview, Michael said he hopes to qualify for the free skate program or the final round that will eventually name the top three medalists.