Filipino figure skater Michael Martinez
CARSON, California - Just days after Filipino figure skater Michael Martinez made history, the Filipino community in Southern California where he trains began the fundraising campaign for the 2018 Winter Olympics with a Zumba dinner dance.
"I know he needs a lot of funding for the next Olympics so this is our kick-off fundraising for the many fundraising that we will be doing for him," said Nonie Belarmino of iDance Studio Zumba.
"Whatever happened in Russia, I think he still did good, and I think he has a better chance in 2018 in Korea. And whatever happens, we're still here, his Zumba family in Carson to support him," added Gel Balatbat.
Right after he finished 19th overall, Martinez declared he's already looking forward to the 2018 Winter Games in Korea.
He'll be 21 years old by then and has already set lofty goals.
"I feel very happy and proud that I made it here in the final round and competing here also in the Olympic Games. My next is I'm aiming at the next Olympic Games and try to get a medal," Martinez said in an earlier interview.
Harriet Buloso of Palmdale, California thinks Martinez is a very good skater and dancer.
"He has very good chances in the 2018 Olympics," she said.
Martinez and his mother went to the US in 2011 to find coaching and training facilities as he geared up for the 2012 junior Olympics, claiming they had little financial support from the government, while government officials said a private sponsor had shouldered his expenses.
After last week's historic Olympic appearance, finances are getting brighter for Martinez. Aside from the money raised by his Zumba family, the MVP Sports Foundation announced they will give him a $10,000 bonus over the weekend.
"With that experience, he'll learn what has to be done based on the performances that he saw from his competitors and hopefully a lot of money will be given to him so he can hire the best," added Belarmino.
Martinez has sent messages to his California-based friends, thanking them for their continued support and prayers.
While Michael's supporter believe early fundraising can help his road to the 2018 Olympics, they're also hoping that his eye-opening Olympic performance can encourage more government and corporate sponsors to also open their wallets and invest in the teenage skating prodigy.