After becoming the first Filipino to qualify in the Winter Olympics, ice skater Michael Christian Martinez is setting his sights for the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Martinez, 16, who ranks 24th in the world, is considered to be the youngest among the international competitors who qualified for the Sochi Olympics after earning the needed points in previous tournaments.
His mother Teresa Martinez is not in a hurry for Michael to win a gold, and believes her son could wind up in 19th to 22nd places against the world’s best skaters especially in North America and Europe.
“Michael is definitely one of the rising stars in figure skating,” Teresa told Philippine News USA reporter David Casuco. “People in the sport believe in the next few years Michael will blossom into a real world-beater.”
If Martinez doesn’t grab the gold on his first try, the kid from Muntinlupa City could peak at age 20 and become an instant favorite in in 2018 Winter Olympics.
Martinez shows a lot of promise since he is competing both in the senior level and the junior division, where he ranks fifth in the world. He can compete in the junior’s side for three more years or can stay in the senior class.
Denied funding by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Martinez gained financial support from generous Filipino-Americans in Los Angeles.
He won his first gold in the 13th Crystal Skate in November last year in Brasov, Romania. Last year, Martinez competed in the 2012 Youth Winter Olympics in January.
“I didn’t have a coach to boost me up, so I was really nervous,” Martinez said after winning in Romania. “My mom, who was acting as my coach, noticed that I was not myself. But I asked the Lord to help me with my jumps.”
JOSEF T. RAMOS