Yesterday (February 23, 2014), we welcomed Filipino Olympian figure skater Michael Martinez at the SM Mall of Asia—his first local media appearance after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Here, 12 things we found out that made us love him even more:
1. He started skating at the age of 8. If Michael had not gotten curious about ice skating after walking past the rink at SM Southmall, then we wouldn't have someone to represent the country for this year's Winter Olympics!
2. Michael was the only Southeast Asian competitor during the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. Heck, he was the only figure skater who came from a tropical country and the only Filipino who qualified for the Winter Olympics in 22 years!
3. Michael has won over 194 medals and trophies since he started figure skating. He has joined numerous local and international competitions which helped hone the skills that led him to the Olympic Games.
4. Michael was awarded a lifetime skating privilege by SM to help hone his talent. That’s a whole lot of hours to skate and train!
5. Michael is automatically qualified for the next Winter Games to be held in South Korea. After placing 19th at the recent Olympics, Michael will train harder for the next Winter Games. He is scheduled to compete at the World Junior Figure Skating Championship this coming March 10 to 16 to be held in Bulgaria.
6. Given the chance, Michael would like to teach or train kids who want to learn figure skating. Kudos, Michael, for helping others who would like to be like you!
7. Michael has bouts of severe asthma. But that never stopped him from training hard and learning the sport. It even pushed him to try harder because he did not want his ailment to hold him back. (This should serve as a lesson for us not to make any excuses when going to the gym!)
8. Figure skating was really just a hobby. Michael just got curious when he saw the skaters in the mall as a little boy. But he gave it a try and loved it so much, so he started to dream of bigger things and pursued them!
9. Michael won a gold medal during his 2012 competition held in Romania. Coincidentally, it is also the first gold medal in figure skating for the Philippines!
10. Michael is ranked 5th in the junior division in the International Skating Union (ISU) and 24th overall. A major feat for a 17-year-old!
11. Michael started competing at the age of 12 in European competitions and already won medals at an early age.
12. Prior to competing in Sochi, Michael only had two full months of training due to financial constraints. And yet, this amazing kid did his country proud by placing 19th out of 24! You really make us feel proud to be Pinoy, Michael!