Considering that the Philippines is a tropical country, producing a Winter Olympian in the person of Michael Christian Martinez is indeed remarkable.
Not only is the teener from Muntinlupa City the first-ever Filipino figure skater in the Olympic Games but also the first from Southeast Asia (composed of 11 countries).
At 17, he’s also the youngest entrant in the event, and one of the youngest in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
After the short program preliminaries on February 13, where he placed 19th overall in the Top 24 among 30 contestants, Michael has become a media darling, not only at home but much so for international journalists covering the event.
As lone representative of a country of 100 million people, his flexibility on the ice rink was enough reason for the audience to be in awe, adding to the fact that snow and sleet exist only in the minds of those in the tropics.
One of the questions always posed is how did he practice and how has he become so good in figure skating.
For answers, see related story Michael Christian Martinez banners Philippines in 2014 Winter Olympics https://arloc888.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/michael-christian-martinez-banners-philippines-in-2014-winter-olympics/ posted as early as December 1, 2013.
During the finals on February 14, Michael enjoyed the lead for some time. He was the third to perform and emerged on top with a total score of 184.25 (64.81 for the short program, and 119.44 for the final free skate routine), until the 7th entrant.
When the other groups performed, Michael’s ranking lowered and lowered, until he ended 19th overall, with Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan emerging #1 for the gold, Patrick Chan of Canada #2 for silver and Denis Ten, representing Kazakhstan at third for the bronze.
Hanyu is the 2013 Grand Prix winner while Chan is 3-time World Champion. The Japanese also set a world record for earning more than 100 points in the short program. Ten, meanwhile, came from 9th in the short program to 3rd overall, snatching the bronze from Spain’s Javier Fernandez.
Michael may have not won a medal in the Games but he has won the hearts and support of Filipinos scattered all over the globe and the admiration and attention of people around the world.
Past midnight on February 15, before the culmination of the event, Chot Reyes, coach of Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippine team to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, and also the executive director of MVPSF (Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation), tweeted that business tycoon Manny Pangilinan is giving Michael a bonus of US$10,000 for his historic performance.
Some of the skaters were as old as 29, and at 17, Michael can still look up to 3 more Winter Olympics.
Although he said that he wants to eventually become a doctor, this early he is already ecstatic for his bid in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Republic Of Korea.
Filipinos will be more supportive, especially that they are now familiar with the term triple axel.