Living the Olympic dream

Living the Olympic dream

His flexibility, artistic moves, and incredible stunts (rarely performed by other figure skaters) captivated the whole world. At age 17, he has just established his presence in the prestigious Olympic Games.

Lone Filipino figure skater, Michael Christian Martinez, proudly represented the Philippines at the men’s figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Martinez marched to the medal round, also called the free program, after he captivated the world with his emotion-filled performance at the short program. Martinez delivered a more daring and spirited routine at the free skate round despite a fall after executing loops. Though he wasn’t able to bring home a medal, he did the nation proud by finishing 19th out of 24 other experienced skaters, several of whom Martinez said, “Had been skating even before I was born.”

So what’s makes this tough, talented skater interesting?

There’s more to Martinez than his age. Hailing from the city of Parañaque, Philippines (yes, a tropical country), this young lad is definitely an athlete to keep a keen eye on as he is also the first figure skater to represent the country and the Southeast Asia in the Winter Olympics.

From the mall to the Olympics. One day while at the mall, Martinez’s interest was caught by the skaters doing impressive jumps and spins on the rink; and after trying the sport, he loved everything about it. At the early age of 8, despite his recurring asthma attacks, he continued to hone his skating skills. Since in the Philippines Martinez didn’t have an exclusive practice rink, he made use of those in malls.

Then there’s his struggle with asthma. In his younger years, he tried playing outdoor sports like any kid; however it was hard for him to take up any sports because he would easily have asthma attacks. According to his mother’s recent interviews, “supporting his son’s dreams were as good as spending sleepless nights in hospitals.”

It’s all about determination, discipline and talent. He would fly out of the country for training where he met other competitive skaters. True enough, nothing comes easy since he couldn’t always afford a coach. Despite the difficulties, he was never intimidated by others, but instead he was challenged to make it big. Fueled by his dreams and hopes, this hopeful athlete would always turn to prayers in all his challenges.

It was said that is formal training for the competition only started in 2010. At present, the first homegrown Filipino figure skater juggled school life and trainings in Manila and in the US with his coach team – John Nicks, Viktor Kudriavstev, former mentor of 1998 Olympic Champion, Ilia Kulik (who is also Martinez’s technical coach); and his mother, Maria Teresa Martinez.

No pain, no gain. The Olympian athlete had suffered quite a number of injuries prior the competition – a fractured ankle in 2013, tore a medial ligament in his knee in 2012, tore two ligaments in his ankle in 2011, and suffered a cut to his thigh from a skating blade in 2009. Despite being out of the rink for quite some time, Martinez made an impressive comeback and ardently worked his way for the Winter Games.

Shifting from recreational to competitive sport, Martinez faced difficult challenges. But through his ever-supportive family, committee and private sectors funding his trainings and competitions, and the entire nation believing in him, Martinez just is now living his dream. The young Filipino athlete just made history.

Michael Christian Martinez, a dreamer, bared to the world the steadfast Filipino spirit in making dreams come true despite the hardest of hurdles.

Achievements: Participated in 2010-2013 Season of the Junior Grand Prix; gold medalist at the 2012 Crystal Skate of Romania (annual senior-level international figure skating competition); ranked 15th and 5th in World Junior Championships in 2012 and 2013 respectively; ranked 7th at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy September 2013; ranks 30th on the International Skating Union World Standings and more. (Sources: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00012802.htm; http://www.policymic.com/articles/81875/7-warm-weather-olympic-teams-that-have-a-chance-in-sochi; http://philboxing.com/news/story-91944.html)

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