WHAT a debut for the Philippines!
With a score of 64.81 in the short program, lone Philippine bet Michael Christian Martinez advanced to the medal round of the men’s figure skating competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Thursday night.
The 17-year old made history as the first Filipino and the first Southeast Asian to perform at the Men’s Figure Skating in the Olympics - then took his quest a step further with an impressive routine despite the weight of the controversy that his participation has stirred back home.
Martinez eventually finished 19th out of the 24 who qualified for the free skate program set late Friday evening (Manila time) where the podium finishers will finally be determined.
“I think I did quite well,” said Martinez in an interview by TV5’s Chiqui Roa-Puno shortly after he performed.
The Filipino admitted being quite nervous when he began his routine, but eventually settled down when he successfully did the `combination’ (jump).
Japan’s Yuzuri Hanyu is favored to win the gold after topping the short program with a new world record of 101.45, besting the previous mark of 99.84 which he himself set. Coming in second was Canadian Patrick Chan of Canada with a 97.52 score followed by Javier Fernandez of Spain (86.98) at third place.
Martinez, a native of Muntinlupa City, was fifth to perform his short program as part of warm up Group 1, with each program is two minutes and 50 seconds long with seven required elements.
The intrepid Filipino ranked fourth after the first 11 performances, guaranteeing his place in the free skating program on February 14 where the top 24 from the 30 entries will compete.
The youngest skater in the field performed to the tune of 'Romeo and Juliet' by Arthur Fiedler at the Iceberg Skating Palace, opening with a triple axel which he nailed but touched down on the triple lutz for which the technical panel gave Martinez a double downgrade.
The cantilever spread drew applause from the appreciative audience that lasted the length of the program.
Martinez placed third with a score of 64.81 in Group 1, his season best. The judges awarded him with a technical score of 33.31 and a component score of 31.50 with no deductions.
“To be honest I didn’t think it would be quite this good,” said one of the commentators.
"Such a great performance from a very young man," added the lady commentator.