Michael Martinez almost withdrew from Sochi

By Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2014 11:39 AM | Updated as of Feb 23 2014 07:39 PM

MANILA -- The country's new sports inspiration, figure skater Michael Martinez, is happy to be coming home on Sunday to even just for a short four-day visit.

Before leaving Sochi, the 17-year-old athlete sent a message of thanks for his memorable Olympic debut.

"Aside from the unforgettable competition I can not forget all the nice people I met here and the camaraderie among
skaters," he said in his Facebook page.

Martinez also gave special thanks to the medical team in Sochi who helped him get through the compettiion.

Michael's mother Teresa revealed that her son was almost forced to withdraw from the Olympics after a bad fall during practice a few days before the figure skating event.

"Thanks too to the doctors and therapists who attended to me everyday. Without them I would have not been able to compete. They always tell me that the previous injuries have not healed yet, then I come in with a new one," the skater said on Facebook.

An x-ray after the fall showed a fractured hip but Martinez and his mom refused to quit.

"Bumagsak siya sa triple jump sa practice. Ang sabi sa
amin ng doctor fractured hip. PIna-check ko ulit sa tatlong doctor doon sa Sochi. Buti nalang nakuha sa therapy. Araw araw ang therapy niya sa Sochi," Mrs. Martinez said.

Mrs. Martinez said her son has suffered so many injuries like a sprained ankle and a twisted knee because of the hard falls on the ice but they refused to let it get them down.

After qualifying for the Olympics last September they were not going to quit even with a fractured hip. Martinez endured the pain to fulfill his Olympic skating dream.

Mrs. Martinez said her son could have performed better had he trained longer for the Olympics and not just the two months they did in the US and Russia.

The sacrifice and commitment of Mrs. Martinez is admirable, as she did everything she could to get her son the best training using her own resources.

But now they are praying for support to be able to really aim and train for a medal at the 2018 Olympics.

Mrs. Martinez is as much a champion as her son. She coached him until she could get a better coach. She used up funds from her farming business, borrowed money and solicited support so her son can get better training in the US and finally Russia.

There are so many stories of Filipino athletes striving and giving their all to get to their dream but few like Martinez make it. He is only 17 and young enough to compete in the next two Olympics.

Here are some tidbits on Martinez's inspiring story and his road to the Winter Olympics in 2018:

1. Michael Martinez almost pulled out of the Olympics a few days before the preliminary competition due to fractured hip he suffered while practicing in Sochi.

2. Michael had to do daily therapy for his hip and shoulder while in Sochi to lessen the pain to enable him to skate .

3. Michael's asthma started acting up day before the preliminary. His mother said he was wheezing and thankfully it did not progress to a full-on asthma attack .

4. The night before the finals, Michael only had two hours sleep as he was called for random doping test which kept him up till 3 a.m.. Michael had to be on the ice at 7 a.m. for his scheduled practice time. It was very hard to get Ice time so he had to use it despite lack of sleep

5. Michael joined 13 tournaments in 2013 to try and qualify for the Sochi Olympics. He finally got enough points in September 2013 after a tournament in Germany.

6. While training in the US, Michael and his mom would take the bus at 5 a.m. to get to the rink for training at 8 am. They would take another bus to get to another rink for training with the spin coach and still another bus to get to the choreographer training venue. MIchael needs a spin coach, a jump coach, a choreographer and a polishing coach to make a routine perfect.

7. Michael's mom paid US$2,000 to the choreographer who made Michael's two-minute routine for the preliminary competition at the Olympics. She had to
pay another $130 per hour for the polishing lessons to execute the routine in top level for Olympics. Mrs. Martinez said the best choreographer charges $10,000 for a two-minute routine.

8. Michael's mom also studied the ins and out of skating when her son decided he wanted to go all out to become a world champion. She learned through books the steps, scoring and technical requirements of figure skating and she coached her son from 2005 onwards until they finally got a coach in the US in 2011.

9 Michael has been home-shooled since he was in grade school to give him more time to train on the ice six hours a day.

10. Michael is the only junior to make it to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He beat at least 10 veterans to land 19th out of 30 competitors.

11. To win a medal in the 2018 Olympics, Michael's mom said training should start now. Michael needs to start
perfecting the quad jump or four turns in the air. The ideal set up for him would be to based in the US (in Anaheim) where the coaches and competitions are many.

12. Michael and his mom would have preferred to stay in Europe to continue training for the World Junior Championships in Bulgaria March 10. But they
are using the four-day visit to Manila to hopefully get sponsors to reach his full potential in figure skating.