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    Michael Martinez raises the bar as he sets sights on 2018 Winter Games medal

    Feb 24, 2014
    Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez hopes to compete for a bronze medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Dante Peralta

    AFTER his historic stint in the Sochi Winter Olympics, Michael Christian Martinez, the first Filipino figure skater to enter the medal round in the quadrennial showpiece, is raising the bar.

    According to Michael’s mother, Teresa, their goals were at a realistic level in his Olympic debut - to simply qualify in the medal round of men’s figure skating.

    “He wasn’t going for first place. Not even the Top 10,” Mrs. Martinez told reporters during their homecoming celebration given them at the SM Mall of Asia last Sunday evening.

    Despite their modest goals, the first entry from the Philippines and Southeast Asia exceeded expectations when he placed 19th out of the 30 competitors in his Olympic debut, earning him not just entry into the next round but praise from eventual silver medalist Patrick Chang of Canada who even befriended the star-struck Pinoy skater.

    Encouraged by her son’s performance, Mrs. Martinez said they plan to raise the bar for the next Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018.

    “For 2018 probably yes. Realistically at least bronze sana. Pero hopefully kung may support,” she said.

    When pressed by media why not go for the gold, the mother of the face of Philippine figure skating was honest enough to admit that it will all boil down to financial support.

    “Kasi napakamahal talaga ng skating e. Like when we went to Russia last December to take lessons with a Russian coach na nag-train sa kanya sa Olympics - he charged us US$700 a day including accommodations and facilities.” 

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    “So for those 30 days that was US$21,000 so ganun kamahal iyun. So depende sa suporta kasi. It’s really an expensive sport,” she explained, adding a lot of what will happen in the next four years will be determined by the level of support they will receive.

    She said Michael’s coaches are based in the US and if their four-year track line is followed, her son will train and study college there as well.

    Asked if she would write another letter asking for support from Malacanang after her first correspondence supposedly ended up as “spam” (according to a Palace spokesman), Mrs. Martinez said her first attempt was enough.

    “Hindi na. Bayaan mo na iyun… Ngayon at least alam na ng lahat na sumulat ako iyun lang ang importante," she said.

    SM, which owns the ice skating rinks where Michael first learned to skate, expressed its support for the phenom.

    “All I can say right now is SM is fully prepared to support him in his training … definitely the support will be there,” said SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy on questions as to whether the retail giant is willing to fund the expensive preparations for the Olympics.

     “Actually we have been quietly supporting them. We took care of some of their expenses. It may not be enough but at least we were very happy with what has happened to them," Sy added.

    The SM Foundation Inc. awarded the figure skater with US$10,000 among various gifts during his homecoming last Sunday. SM also gave Martinez a lifetime skating privilege which allows the world’s 19th best men’s figure skater free use on any of SM’s skating rinks.

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    Business tycoon Manny Pangilinan, whose broadcasting company TV5 aired the Sochi Winter Olympics, also provided a US$10,000 cash reward for the 17-year old figure skater.

    The Martinez’ stay in the country will be short since they will soon be flying to the US to prepare for the World Junior Figure Skating Championships on March 10-16 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

    Martinez will also compete in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Championships series this August. 

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    Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez hopes to compete for a bronze medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Dante Peralta
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