After 22 years, the Philippines will be returning to the Winter Olympics Games.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Christian Martinez will carry the Philippine colors when he competes in the men’s singles figure skating event at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, February 7 to 23.
Martinez, who was born in Paranaque City, qualified for the Sochi Games by placing seventh in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany last year.
His total of 189.46 points was good enough for him to join gold medalist Nobunari Oda of Japan (262.98 points), silver medalist Jason Brown of US (262.98) and bronze medalist Jeremy Ten of Canada (206.56) in the Winter Olympics.
Also gaining berths are top 10 finishers Alexei Bychenko of Israel, Zoltan Kelemen of Romania, Kerry Brendan of Australia, Yakov Godorozha of Ukrain and Paul Bonifacio Parkinson of Italy.
In 2012, Martinez won a gold medal in the 13th Crystal Skate held in Brasov, Romania.
He ended up fourth in the 2013 Junior Grand Prix in Latvia and fifth in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Italy.
“[Back then in Romania] I didn’t have a coach to boost me up, so I was really nervous. 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,” Martinez said in his previous interview.
Martinez also competed in some major tournaments in the US including the Junior Grand Prix held in Lake Placid, New York. He trained under world-class mentors like John Nicks, Ilia Kulik and Peter Kongkasem.
“Michael is definitely one of the rising stars in figure skating. People in the sport believe in the next few years Michael will blossom into a real world-beater,” his mom, Teresa told Philippine News USA reporter David Casuco in an interview.
It will be the country’s fourth time in the Winter Olympics. In 1992, Filipino Michael Teruel saw action in the men’s alpine skiing in the Albertville, France, finishing 49th in the slalom event and 71st in the giant slalom category.
The Philippines’ first participation was in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan, where Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca failed to make it to the podium in the men’s slalom alpine skiing.
Raymund Ocampo qualified in the 1988 edition in Calgary, Canada, only to wind up 35th in the men’s luge event.
EMIL C. NOGUERA