Martinez dedicates Olympic stint to fellow athletes

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


MANILA -- Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez returned to the country on Sunday, dedicating his breakthrough stint in the 2014 Winter Olympics to fellow Filipino athletes who also deserve support for representing the Philippines in the international sporting scene.

"I'm not the first to represent the country in the world stage. So please don't forget other athlete heroes. I share this moment with them," Martinez told a sizable crowd near the Mall of Asia (MOA) skating rink in Pasay City.

Martinez thanked his family, sponsors and the public for supporting his journey in Sochi, Russia, where he captured the world's attention as the first Southeast Asian to compete in the men's singles event.

He finished 19th in a field of 30 participants including his idols Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada. He was the youngest competitor at 17 years old.

Michael Christian Martinez
Olympic figure skater Michael Christian Martinez (center) shares his inspiring journey in the 2014 Winter Olympics to fellow "athlete heroes" in his homecoming on Sunday. (Virgil Lopez)

"He is a shining example to the youth as someone who saw no limits to what he can achieve. He has already inspired millions by following his dream and by competing in the Winter Olympics," said SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy, one of those who helped bankroll Martinez's Sochi campaign.

Sy pledged to support Martinez in his goal to qualify and hopefully earn the country's first medal in the Winter Olympics in the 2018 edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

During the press conference, Martinez was given a lifetime skating privilege and $10,000 by the SM group. Businessman Manuel Pangilinan earlier gave the same amount to the skater's mother.

He also had a motorcade around Pasay City before arriving at the MOA for the media briefing.

Martinez will do a series of performances in SM ice skating rinks in Metro Manila on Monday and Tuesday before leaving for the United States to prepare for the World Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria on March 10-16.

He may pay a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III although no date has been set as the Chief Executive has a packed schedule this week, a Palace official said.

In an interview over Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) already made a request for a courtesy call.

Earlier, Coloma said the President will be marking the 28th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution in the provinces, including those hit by recent calamities.

Also, the President will have a two-day state visit to Malaysia on February 27 and 28.

Meanwhile, Senators Grace Poe and Vicente Sotto III have filed resolutions commending Martinez.

In her Senate Resolution 517, Poe hailed Martinez for “raising the Philippine flag in the global sporting event with courage and bringing honor to a tropical nation in a sport hardly known to most Filipinos.”

“Michael Christian Martinez is a Filipino youth worth emulating. He is an inspiration not just for our young people but for every Filipino. His struggles did not undermine his determination to compete in the Winter Olympics,” Poe said.

Martinez qualified for the Olympics when he finished seventh in the men’s singles in the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy held in Oberstdorf, Germany on September 26-28 last year.

Despite frequent bouts of asthma, he never gave up on his dreams to become an accomplished performer on ice.

Since he fell in love with the sport while watching kids doing spins and jumps in an ice skating rink when he was eight years old, Martinez has garnered 194 medals and trophies from various international and local competitions. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)

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