skating

Journey off the ice: Michael Martinez shares why he took a 3-year layoff

Leigh Nald Cabildo
Journey off the ice: Michael Martinez shares why he took a 3-year layoff

RESTART. Michael Martinez works his way back to the top of Philippine figure skating.

Michael Martinez's Instagram page

His break was long, but for the 24-year-old Filipino figure skater, it was necessary

Michael Martinez is back.

After staying cold and distant from competing for three years, the two-time Filipino Winter Olympian decided to lace up his skates once again in a bid to return to the top of Philippine skating.

His break was long, but for the 24-year-old figure skater, it was necessary.

“It’s been a journey,” Martinez said in a Rappler Talk episode last Thursday, October 20.

“I don’t know how to explain it but I really needed that break. I really needed to find myself.” 

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Rappler Talk Sports: Michael Martinez on his skating return

Rappler Talk Sports: Michael Martinez on his skating return

Martinez had been the face of the Philippines’ winter sports after he qualified for the 2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. He also became the first skater from Southeast Asia to compete in the Winter Games.

But after spending most of his time in the rink, Martinez decided to step back and try something else.

“For the longest time, I was just trying to do everything,” he said. “And I told myself that I need to take a breather and figure out what I really want.”

“I was coaching, I was doing other jobs too. I was working for a law firm. I was doing a lot of stuff trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be.”

Martinez also explored becoming an influencer and tried bodybuilding to achieve a physique totally different from a figure skater’s.

He said the encouragement of friends and fans was the main reason he continued skating back then. This time, though, Martinez’s decision to return to the competitive scene was all his. 

“Before, it was just mainly everybody saying ‘hey, you have to win, you have to win,’” Martinez said. “It started to feel that I’m losing my voice and myself. But this time, that break really gave me the strength to come back.”

Coming back from a long hiatus, though, is not easy for Martinez as he admits he had to overcome both physical and financial woes.

“I forgot how expensive this sport is,” Martinez said. “The financial side was really difficult because it was really expensive. Good thing that we’re here in Moscow because it’s a lot cheaper to train here than in the USA.”

“The physical stuff, my body’s not young anymore. I don’t know how my body works anymore. It was really difficult to maintain and to get back that skill again on the ice and to be better at it.”

Now gearing up for the Cup of Austria in November, Martinez said he’s ready to show a new version of himself.

“I’m really excited to show you guys the revamped version of me,” he said. – Rappler.com