Prior to officially competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics, Filipino skater Michael Christian Martinez posted a message of thanks and a request for prayers on his Facebook account.
“Thank you so much for all your support!!!” he wrote. “Our family appreciate (sic) it very much. Please pray for me. My event starts tonight.”
Martinez gained sudden popularity as he became the first Filipino representative to the Winter Olympics.
His upcoming performance will be the pinnacle of the young Martinez’ career which started when he skated inside a Manila mall. He struggled to keep up with the sport as he suffered from asthma but he fought as he fell in love with it. The path to the Sochi Winter Olympics has not been easy for the young skater as the cost of coaching is steep.
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Martinez has received tremendous media attention as news agencies from abroad marveled at how a tropical nation could have an entry to the Winter Olympics. NBC and CNN have both written about the exploits of Martinez who is also the first representative of the Southeast Asian region to the games.
The young skater has set a modest goal for himself in the Sochi games. "I'd love to qualify for the free skate [top 24]; that would be a big accomplishment for me," said Martinez in an interview with NBCOlympics.com. “I don't know what placement I'll get because my training is so different, but we'll see.”
But more than the placement, Martinez wants to perform well to represent the Philippines and show the world that Filipinos can compete in the Winter Olympics even if they carry the perpetual handicap of not having cold weather.
“It feels great that I'm here representing the Philippines at the Olympics,” Martinez said in the same interview. “There is a lot of pressure on me because not only am I skating for my country, but for all the hard work I've put in the last four years.”