Martinez, 3 countries and the Winter Olympics

Michael Bueza

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(UPDATED) The Philippines is not the only Southeast Asian nation competing in this year's Winter Games. Check out some fast facts about PH, Thailand and East Timor's participation

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – There may be no ice or snow in the tropics, but that does not stop three Southeast Asian nations from competing in the Winter Olympic Games.

The Philippines, Thailand, and East Timor sent a combined 4 athletes to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

So far, they are the only 3 nations from Southeast Asia, situated near the equator, to compete in the Winter Olympic Games.

However, for the Philippines and Thailand, this is not their first foray in the Winter Games.

The Philippines was the first to join in 1972, with 2 athletes competing. The country then sent one representative each in 1988, 1992, and this year.

Meanwhile, Thailand first competed in the Winter Games in 2002. It joined again in 2006 with one athlete, and this year with 2 athletes.

East Timor made its debut this year in the Winter Olympics, sending one delegate.

Here are some more fast facts about the participation of the Philippines, Thailand, and East Timor in the Winter Olympic Games.

1. The Philippines’ Michael Christian Martinez is the first Southeast Asian figure skater to advance to the finals in the Winter Olympics. (READ: The lone Filipino Winter Olympian)

EARLY LEAD. Filipino Michael Christian Martinez performs in the Men's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 14, 2014. Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP

Martinez finished 19th in the men’s figure skating finals on Saturday morning, February 15 (Manila time).

2. Ben Nanasca of the Philippines is the youngest Winter Olympian from Southeast Asia.

He was 17 years old when he participated alongside his cousin Juan Cipriano in both the men’s slalom and men’s giant slalom events of alpine skiing in the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.

Nanasca and Cipriano were the first Southeast Asians to compete in the Winter Olympic Games.

Martinez, who is also 17 years old when he competed this year, is older by around 60 days than Nanasca when the latter competed in 1972 at the age of 17.

3. Thailand’s Vanessa Vanakorn is the first woman athlete from Southeast Asia to compete in the Winter Games.

WOMAN WINTER OLYMPIAN. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (L) chats with former musician Vanessa-Mae before the IOC President’s Gala Dinner on the eve of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony. Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP

Known as Vanessa-Mae back in her home country, Vanakorn is also a violinist. She will compete in the women’s giant slalom event of alpine skiing on Tuesday, February 18.

Another Thai athlete, Kanes Sucharitakul, will compete on Wednesday, February 19, in the men’s giant slalom event, and on Saturday, February 22, in the men’s slalom event.

4. Prawat Nagvajara of Thailand is the first two-time Southeast Asian Winter Olympian.

TWO-TIME OLYMPIAN. Prawat Nagvajara of Thailand (L) competes at the men's 15km classical of the 2006 Winter Olympics' cross country in Italy. Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP

Nagvajara competed in cross-country skiing at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. –

Editor’s Note: In the original article, only members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were included. East Timor, also a Southeast Asian nation and a participant in the Winter Olympics, has been included in the updated article. 

Sources:, Wikipedia

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.