Michael Martinez gets surprise hero's welcome in LA

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Mar 03 2014 12:03 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2014 07:07 PM

Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez. File Photo

LOS ANGELES - Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez got another hero's welcome.

This time, his adopted family from Southern California came to greet him, a pleasant surprise for the soft-spoken Olympian.

"I did not imagine. I got 19th place so I did not expect the warmth of the Filipino people to greet me. So it feels so great," he said.

Martinez, the first Filipino figure skater to appear at a Winter Olympics, was even greeted by some foreign entertainers in town for the Oscars.

There won't be much time for the Philippines Olympic hero to celebrate in his adopted home. After about a week of training, he is leaving again for Bulgaria, where his quest for the 2018 winter games will begin.

The 17-year-old will be in action next week for the Junior World Championships in Bulgaria.

"I don't mind the pressure that everyone is watching me now. For me, I feel I'm getting more confidence because a lot of people are supporting me and praying for me and my success," he said.

Since he took to the ice in Sochi earlier this month, the asthmatic kid from Muntinlupa who struggled financially while making history is now breathing a bit easier, as more financial support for the expensive sport has trickled

He's even won the support from lawmakers including Manny Pacquiao, calling for resolutions to recognize his historic feat.

"We appreciate it very much, we appreciate it very much," his mother Theresa Martinez said.

"It looks so better and a lot of people supporting me financially so now I can train more," Michael said.

While this trip is brief, his supporters are also making arrangements for him to meet with some sponsors, hoping more investments can come in for Martinez who is already eyeing a medal in 2018.