The Philippine Skating Union (PSU) said it remains supportive of two-time Winter Olympian Michael Christian Martinez's efforts to return to the quadrennial meet.
According to the national skating federation, it has been supporting Martinez since he decided to pursue a third straight Winter Olympics berth, and applauded the idea of his crowdfunding campaign.
"PSU is in support of 5 Filipino athletes who are in pursuit to qualify for the Beijing 2022 Olympics," PSU president Nikki Cheng told Rappler.
"While support for this training fund has already been agreed upon with Michael last February 2021, we admire his Filipino fighting spirit to increase his chances of qualifying for the world stage through his GoFundMe campaign."
Cheng said Martinez did not immediately return to training after his 2018 Winter Olympics stint in PyeongChang, South Korea and took a two-year break.
He only rejoined the national team last February and is currently training with Russian coach Nikolai Morozo in the US.
PSU can only send one male and one female to the 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, which will serve as the last qualifier to the Beijing Winter Olympics set from February 4 to 20, 2022.
Martinez is set to compete against two budding foreign skaters with Filipino roots – Filipino-American Christopher Caluza, who won a silver in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and incumbent national champion Edrian Celestino, a Filipino-Canadian.
Only 6 Olympic slots will up for grabs in the Nebelhorn Trophy, which will be staged from September 22 to 25.
According to Cheng, the PSU has yet to discuss the federation's selection process for the Olympic qualifier, given the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federation is also supporting 2019 SEA Games silver medalist Alisson Perticheto in the women's singles figure skating event, and speed skater Julian Macaraeg, who saw action in the 2021 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships last March.
Only 17 years old during his historic 2014 Sochi Games stint, Martinez – who learned how to skate in a shopping mall – was the first Southeast Asian to compete in the Winter Olympics and also the youngest figure skater then in the male event.
In the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the Muntinlupa native again competed but failed to advance to the free skate round after finishing 28th out of 30 participants. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.