Michael Christian Martinez, the Philippines’ lone entry to the Winter Olympics set on February 7 to 23 in Sochi, Russia is ready to test his mettle in the traditional men’s figure skating event. Martinez, under the tutelage of 76-year-old veteran Russian coach Victor Kudryavtsev will see action on February 13.
“My confidence level is very high and I think I’m ready to compete,” Martinez told David Casuco of Examiner.com. “I have enough training days and my coach is really good, but I know that will be a very tough competition.”
Martinez said that the goal is to make it to the top 24 in order to bag a finals berth in the event participated in by the best ice skaters in the world.
“Most skaters have been in this sports even before I was born, so qualifying in the top 24 will be absolutely tough, There are many veteran ice skaters who some of them are world and national champions,” he added.
Martinez was a gold medalist and champion in the Asian Junior Figure Skating Challenge from 2008 to 2011, a gold medalist in the 2012 Crystal Skate (senior level) in Romania, and a bronze medalist in the 2013 Junior Gran Prix in Riga, Estonia.
Martinez only started his training in ice skating in 2005 at the South Mall rink in Las Piñas.
Meanwhile, snow boarder Billy Morgan of Britain will be the first athlete to see action in Sochi on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Morgan, 24, was taking part in the slopestyle qualification event at the snowboard park at Rosa Khutor—in the mountains above Sochi, which will hold Friday’s official opening ceremony.
The snowboarder was reminded at the top of his run by injured Norwegian Torstein Horgmo that he was the first athlete in action at the Games and the first ever to compete in slopestyle—which is a new Olympic event.
“It was good. I didn’t think about it until I was at the top and about to go and Torstein said ‘you’re the first one to do this in the Olympics ever.’ I’m stoked.”
Morgan said it was a disadvantage going first but he hoped to reach the final.
Speaking about the atmosphere in the mountains, he said: “It’s absolutely awesome. I just got to the bottom and it’s awesome. It’s just qualifying and the stands here are half full. The Games haven’t even started yet.”
The first Russian to take part in the Games was Alexey Sobolev, who was the ninth man down the course.
“The conditions are good and I can’t complain. It would be great if the park stays as it is after the Olympics so we can train here,” he said.
Women’s freestyle skiing and team figure skating also start on Thursday and alpine skiiers will be training.
Security at the February 7-23 Games has been a major concern following two deadly December suicide attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.
Adding to that unease is a stream of threats from Islamist militants in the volatile northern Caucasus region.
The Games have also been overshadowed by concerns over Russia’s law outlawing “gay propaganda” to minors.
WITH REPORT FROM AFP