Michael Martinez savors Winter Olympic experience

Report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2014 01:13 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2014 09:13 PM

Filipino figure skater Michael Christian Martinez

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino figure skater Michael Christian Martinez is savoring every moment of his first Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The 17-year-old skater achieved many of his dreams in the Games, including representing the Philippines and qualifying for the finals of the figure skating competition, where he placed 19th in the 30-man field.

He also got to skate with some of the best in the sport, including his idol, Patrick Chan of Canada.

“Surprisingly, they are so very kind and yeah, they actually approached me and congratulated me, that I am the very first Filipino to compete here in the Olympic Games in figure skating,” said Martinez of his fellow skaters.

Martinez also shared the joy of making it to the Olympics with his mother, who, like him, worked hard to make it happen.

“It feels so great that I’m skating in front of her and seeing her in the seats while I am performing,” said Martinez.

“I feel very happy, because I landed my second triple axle in the halfway program so that’s an improvement,” he added. “I got the chance to land some of my jumps… I am aiming for the next Olympic Games and try to get a medal.”

He is also grateful for the recognition that he has been getting in Sochi, even from international media.

“I’m very happy, kasi nakikilala na ako sa Pilipinas, at masaya ako na nakikilala ako sa Pilipinas para makakuha ako ng sponsorship,” he said.

Martinez said it would be best for him to base himself in the United States as he prepares for the 2018 Winter Games in order to get the best coaches.

“Ang ganda po ng training nila for figure skating talaga,” he said. “Andoon na po ‘yung coach ko, naandon din ‘yung mga choreographers, ‘yung Olympic coach for choreography. And nandoon na rin ‘yung mga competition, so pag nagawa mo na ‘yung program mo, mata-try mo na sa kahit anong competition at malalalaman mo na rin ‘yung score.”

Martinez and his mother are praying that they will have sufficient financial support to pay for these world-class coaches.

“I received an e-mail tonight from somebody in the Philippines who wants to discuss the possibility of funding him until 2018,” said Martinez’s mother, Maria Teresa. “So that one is very good news for us.”

Martinez is still in Sochi, where he is practicing for his next big event – the world junior championships in Bulgaria.