PH skater chases Olympic dream

By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)

Posted at Apr 25 2013 01:14 PM | Updated as of Apr 25 2013 09:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Top Filipino figure skater Michael Martinez goes full throttle in the pursuit of his Winter Olympics dream as he vies in the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy, a qualifying event for the 2014 Olympiad in Sochi, Russia.

Martinez, who enjoys a rank of 19th in the International Skating Union (ISU) Season’s Best World Rankings, primes up for rigorous training abroad in his determined effort to nail one of six berths to Sochi to be disputed in the Sept. 25-28 Nelbelhorn tourney in Oberstdorf, Germany.

“I’ll try my best to make it to the Olympics,” said the soft-spoken 16-year-old recent high school grad, who’s looking to become the first Filipino Winter Olympian.

Martinez is putting his college life on hold to concentrate on his Olympic aspirations and to gear up, a training program in the US and possibly in Russia, two powerhouse nations on ice, is being arranged.

“By next month, I’ll go to the US or Russia. We’re also requesting the Russian coach if he’s going to allow me to train with their Olympic team,” said Martinez, who is honing his skills under Russian 1995 Olympic champion Ilia Kulik and British coach John Nicks.

Champion in the recent Crystal Skate 2012 in Brasov, Romania and seventh placer in the first Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Australia, Martinez received P1-million from SM Ice Skating as support for his Olympic dream.

SM FECI senior vice president Manuel Atacador Jr. and SM Ice Skating division manager Raymund Retumban released the check in a simple ceremony yesterday at RoyalView Seafood Restaurant with Philippine Skating Union president Pocholo Veguillas and his mother Ma. Theresa also in attendance.

“Ice skating is really expensive so this will be a big help to pay for coaches, ice time,” said Martinez, revealing that he regularly spends about $100 per hour for the services of his coach alone.

Martinez is considered as the youngest and most accomplished senior level skater from the Philippines, having collection a total of 194 medals and trophies since 2005.

SM Ice Skating said they saw the potential of Martinez, a home-grown talent, so they “took the lead in supporting his endeavors and will upkeep his tournaments as the young achiever continues to give glory to the country.”