AFTER a 22-year absence from the Winter Olympics, the Philippines will be represented by a lone figure skater in Sochi.
Michael Christian Martinez, 17, from Muntinlupa City, is the first homegrown Filipino figure skater competing in the Winter Olympics.
Initially, he did not expect to qualify to this year’s Olympic Games but he and his mother took the risk of competing this year. He is looking to qualify and finish in the top 24 in the oldest sport in The Winter Games.
Martinez, who began skating in 2005 at an ice rink in a shopping mall, trains mainly in Manila but travels to California where he trains for several months with British figure skating coach John Hicks.
He began competing internationally in 2010 and won his first senior international title in 2012 at the Crystal Skate in Romania.
Martinez placed fifth in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Milan, Italy and seventh in the Nebelhorn Trophy to earn a spot for the Philippines in men's figure skating singles in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The road to Sochi for the 5'8" athlete, a graduate of the Muntinlupa School for Child Development, is not an easy one. In years of competition he has sustained multiple injuries which include a fractured ankle, a torn medial ligament in the knee, two torn ankle ligaments and a a cut to his thigh from a skating blade.
Filipino-foreigners will also be making a mark in The Winter Olympics this year. JR Celski is competing in the short-track speed skating for the United States. He is looking for a gold medal finish this year after capturing two bronze medals at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Celski, who is born to a Filipino mother and Polish American father, is considered the face of the US team.
Another Filipino looking to make his mark is Gilmore Junio, a long track speed skater representing Canada. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta to Filipino iimmigrants, Junio is considered ‘the fastest Filipino on ice.' According to a Canadian news article, Junio is proud of his Filipino heritage.
The XXII Olympic Winter Games will be televised starting on Saturday on TV5, the Philippine Olympic Network. Sochi 2014 will also be brought to home computers and mobile devices via PLDT Home Fibr, Smart and CignalTV.