MANILA, Philippines – The Filipino coaches of figure skater Michael Christian Martinez could not be happier for the Olympian after he made history in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The 17-year-old Martinez was the country’s lone representative in the Winter Olympics, and had a respectable finish in his Winter Games debut as he wound up in 19th place.
According to his coaches, Martinez’s talent for ice skating was evident from a young age.
“Naalala ko talaga na mabilis siyang turuan,” said Coach Al Marinas. “Ang bilis niyang mag-excel, hindi siya mahirap turuan. Sasabihin mo lang sa kanya, wala siyang reklamo. Gagawin niya ‘yung ipapagawa mo sa kanya.”
Marinas coached Martinez from 2007 and was the one who suggested that Martinez train in Colorado Springs.
“I was the one who introduced him to Colorado Springs because I know some of the coaches there who are Olympic-caliber,” he explained.
Marinas said that even then, Martinez’s passion and love for figure skating was already evident. “Talagang gusto niya ‘yung sport,” he said.
Martinez’s spinning coach, Noel Nerida, said he was a talented spinner from a young age.
“Actually, Michael is a natural spinner,” he said. “He has the potential na sa umpisa pa lang, kitang-kita na.”
It was Nerida who taught Martinez the Biellman spin, an upright spin executed on one foot, with the other foot extended over and behind the head. Martinez was one of the few men who successfully executed the spin in the Olympics.
“Michael is so flexible,” said Nerida. “Endurance, flexibility, andoon sa kanya, at ‘yung grace and finesse sa loob ng ice.”
Abraham Domdom, Martinez’s jumping coach, meanwhile, said that the Olympian is fearless and persevered even when he fell on jumps.
“Makikita mo ‘yung potential ni Michael, kasi masipag siya. Kahit mahulog siya, babangon siya at gagawin pa rin niya ‘yung elements hanggang makuha niya,” Domdom said.
Martinez landed a triple axel in the free skate program, but Domdom said the 17-year-old is already working on quadruple jumps.
“Nung umuwi siya dito, nata-try niya na. One fourth na lang ang kulang. Koonti pa, at kayang-kaya niya na ang quad jump,” said Domdom.
Martinez’s coaches were all surprised and overwhelmed when he made it to the Winter Games, and watched his performances with bated breath.
“Na-overwhelm ako noong nakita ko ‘yung performance niya,” Marinas said. “Talagang ang laki ng improvement. Talagang different Michael na…. Talagang makikita mo na ‘yung moves niya sa ice ay advanced na.”
“I never knew na aabot siya sa Olympics,” said Nerida. “It was his dream and our dream, pero sabi namin dahil sa finances and everything, baka hindi niya makaya.”
“Nagulat na lang kami, he was there already.”