MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez became the first Filipino to qualify for the Winter Olympics after securing a spot in the final qualifying event for the 2014 Sochi Games.
The 16-year-old Martinez, who hails from Muntinlupa, finished in seventh place in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany last September 28.
Martinez started skating competitively in 2008 and is the first Filipino skater to perform a triple Axel in a competition, according to his International Skating Union (ISU) biography.
It is the first time that the Philippines will be represented in the figure skating event in the Winter Olympics.
Japan’s Nobunari Oda won the gold medal in the men’s even of the Nebelhorn Trophy, followed by Jason Brown of the United States and Jeremy Ten of Canada.
Another Filipino,Alisson Krystle Peticheto, participated in the ladies’ event and finished in 18th place overall.
This is the third time the Philippines will be competing in the Winter Olympics after a 26-year absence from the Games. The last Filipino to vie for a medal in the sporting event was Raymund Ocampo, who finished 35th in the luge event at Calgary, Canada.
The Philippines is considered the first tropical country to participate in the Winter Olympics when it sent two skiers to the Sapporo Games in Japan. Ben Nanasca placed 42nd in the giant slalom event, while Juan Cipriano did not finish.