SM Group commits multi-million backing for Michael Martinez's training for 2018 Winter Games
Olympian Michael Martinez says he is thankful that he and his family won't have to worry as much about the financial burden for his training. Jerome Ascano

MICHAEL Martinez will try to make the Filipinos proud as he joins the Hilton Honors Skate America in Chicago, Illinois from October 22 to 26.

Ranked 27th in the world, the first Filipino figure skater to make it to the Winter Olympics admitted being elated after being one of the chosen few to participate in the event.

“Masaya po kasi invitational lang po ito and top ranks lang po ang na-i-invite,” said the young skating sensation during his contract signing with the SM Group at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday.

Martinez, though, played down his chances, pointing out that he has been cramming a bit while trying to put together his two-part program for the prestigious competition.

“Kaya lang kinakabahan po ako kasi five months po akong walang nagawa (sa program). 'Yung free skate po ok na pero 'di pa po polished and 'yung short program po wala pa,” he said.

“Pero ita-try ko po ang best ko na hindi kulelat,” added the Filipino Olympian.

The 17-year-old Pinoy pride will leave on Friday to continue his training overseas.

Martinez’s contract signing with the SM Group assured that he’ll receive continuous monetary support in his bid to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The contract is worth P9 million a year for the next four years to finance the Filipino skater’s training.

The 17-year-old skater admitted it was difficult for his family to finance his training, that’s why he’s thankful to the SM Group for taking care of his financial woes and allowing him to just focus on competing.

“Dati po feeling ko mag-i-stop na ako kasi sa laki ng gastos and there was no support. Ngayon my main focus is on how to compete.”

Martinez said he is paying his coach US$5,000 per hour to help him prepare his five-minute program.

“Hindi ko na rin po iisipin na mahihirapan si Mama maghanap ng pang gastos sa akin,” he said.

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