MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Olympian Michael Christian Martinez was feted at the House of Representatives on Wednesday for his historic appearance at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The 17-year-old figure skater is the first Southeast Asian from the tropical zone to qualify for the Olympics and the only athlete to represent the Philippines at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Martinez thanked those who rooted for him, including those who helped finance his training.
The Filipino underwent training in New Jersey under a new choreographer. However, he had to wrap up his US sessions due to lack of finances.
Martinez, whose goal is to win a medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, said he hopes to get a full-time sponsor so they could hire the best coaches in the US.
“’Yung sponsors po, wala pa rin po,” said the figure skater. “Iyong mother ko they're still negotiating [with potential sponsors].”
He plans to join an international tournament in Taiwan this August.
Martinez’s story captivated sports fans around the world after he became the first Southeast Asian to qualify and compete in the Winter Olympics despite lacking in funding. He placed 19th out of 30 competitors in men’s figure skating.