Pinoy coach recalls how Michael Martinez started

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 04 2014 01:45 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2014 05:04 AM

Al Mariñas one of the Filipino coaches who first taught Michael Martinez how to skate. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – “He’s a natural.”

This is what coach Al Mariñas said back in 2006 when he first saw Michael Martinez, who eventually became the first Olympic figure skater in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com on Monday, Mariñas recalled how Martinez has been doing freestyle stunts even if he only had basic training.

He said Martinez was able to learn how to do jumps and spins just by observing higher-level students at the SM skating rink.

“Noong nasa basic level pa lang siya, playful siya sa ice. Ginagaya niya ‘yung mga nasa freestyle level,” Mariñas said. “He’s a natural, tumatalon-talon na siya. Kaya noong time na naturuan ko na siya, mabilis niyang nakuha kasi nagpra-practice na siya bago ko pa maturo kasi nakikita niya sa iba.”

Mariñas also praised Martinez for his diligence and passion for figure skating, qualities which he believes helped his ward in his journey to the Winter Olympics in Russia.

“Kasi when you perform, ‘yung music na ginagamit mo, pino-portray mo ‘yun eh. Kung makikita mo siya kapag nagpe-perform siya, very emotional, very passionate. Talagang love niya ‘yung ginagawa niya.

“Kasi ‘yung iba parang robot lang, ‘di ba? Kung ano ‘yung galaw mo, ‘yun na talaga. Walang dating,” he said.

Honing his skills

Martinez trained under Mariñas and his team of skating coaches five days a week for two years, or until 2008.

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“Every day kaming nagkikita, from Monday to Friday. Meron siya sa morning, tapos sa afternoon ibang lesson naman, ibang coach. Meron siyang jump coach, tapos spinning coach,” he said.

“As a student okay siya, masipag mag-practice kaya mabilis siyang turuan… ‘yung akala mo naglalaro lang siya pero hindi mo alam seryoso na pala siya,” he added. “Noong na-handle ko na siya, doon na niya mas na-develop ‘yung skills niya, ‘yung flexibility, ‘yung kanyang pagiging artistic.”

After his lessons under Mariñas, Martinez took it a step further and trained in the United States.

And the rest, he said, is history.

Michael Christian Martinez. File Photo.

When asked if he expected Martinez to make it to the Winter Olympics, he said: “Inabangan talaga namin ‘yung mga scores eh. Tapos noong nakita namin na pasok na siya, masaya talaga. Nakaka-excite kasi at least at an early age, at 17, nakapasok na siya agad sa Olympics. Hindi mo inaasahan na makukuha natin ‘yun.”

When Martinez returned to the Philippines shortly after his Olympic stint, Mariñas helped him train for his performances at SM malls and created an exhibition program for him for the Junior World Championships in Bulgaria.

“Nag-train kami for two days kasi super busy ‘yung schedule niya,” he said. “Bale nasa US siya ngayon, so magte-train siya for one week then sa March 7, pupunta na siya sa Bulgaria for the competition on the 15th.”