Pinoy skater upbeat vs world's best

By Chiara Mapa, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 11 2014 09:00 AM | Updated as of Feb 11 2014 05:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Michael Christian Martinez hopes to make the most of his record stint in the Winter Olympics as he competes against best in the world in the men’s figure skating event of the Sochi Winter Games in Russia Thursday night.

The lone Filipino bet will perform in the short program round starting at 11 p.m. at the Iceberg Skating Palace, seeking to make the top 24 for a spot in the final Free Skate round set Friday.

He will be performing to the love theme of Romeo and Juliet by Nino Rota. Highlights of his routine include a Triple Axel and a Triple Loop jump.

The 17-year-old Martinez from Muntinlupa is the first-ever Filipino to compete in the Winter Olympics with his participation generating so much interest given his geographical representation.

“This is for my mother, for God, for my family and for the country,” said Martinez.

Being the youngest skater in the men’s event and having clearly less experience and training than his competitors, Martinez is not considered a frontrunner in his event. But the country’s lone athlete in the games did not go unnoticed.

In fact, the Phl’s “Golden Boy of Skate” has been featured in numerous Russian papers, touting him as one of the “exotic” participants in the Winter Games due to unique tropical origins.

On the Sochi Olympics website, he currently has one of the highest number of supporters, third only to female skater Luna Kim and three-time Olympic medalist, Evgeny Plushenko.

Thousands of supporters on Martinez’s Facebook page have thanked him for the historical feat, all saying his “miracle” entry to the Winter Games is a victory in itself.

“The young boy is very talented, he jumps very well, but of course, he still has to work on some elements,” Martinez’s present coach Victor Kudryavtsev told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“What impresses me most is how Martinez has learned to skate in such appalling conditions. He learned how to do a triple axel just by watching others on television,” added Kudryavtsev.