Praise for Martinez after historic stint
MANILA, Philippines - A star is born.
Even after bowing out of the medal position in the men's figure skating finals, lone Filipino Winter Olympian Michael Christian Martinez has earned the praise and respect of the country's sports officials, on top of the outpouring of support he received from legions of Filipinos.
The 17-year-old figure skater from Parañaque dazzled and wowed the world with his impressive routines in two days of action in the figure skating event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
Martinez, who is the first and youngest Southeast Asian figure skater to compete at the Winter Olympics, made history by barging into the final round after a 64.81-point performance in the short program, followed by a score of 119.44 in the finale to accumulate a score of 184.25 through two days of competition. (READ: Martinez enters Top 24)
Martinez performed third and held the lead after 6 performers had skated.
Martinez weathered an injury months before the Olympics, and his family had to make a number of sacrifices to make it to the international stage, where he would earn respect.
In the very first day alone, commentators already referred to Martinez's performance as "history in the making." And when he capped off his showing in the finale, the commentators were left in awe of the gallantry Martinez had shown.
Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, an athlete herself and the Philippines' representative to the International Olympic Committee, couldn’t help but say positive things to the child prodigy who made his country proud with the Olympic appearance.
"Michael worked very hard to be here. He's here because he deserves to be here. He's driven and passionate," said Cojuangco-Jaworski in a television interview.
She wished nothing but the best for the hard-working Martinez.
"You don't become an Olympian without having those traits. Hopefully he can continue his athletic dreams. It is my prayer that he can do both. He is still young and he has a lot in front of him," she remarked of Martinez, who aspires to become a doctor some day as well.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia meanwhile said the youngster had "the attitude of a winner" and would use his time in Sochi "as a stepping stone to gain more experience for the next Olympics".
The best is yet to come
Martinez has turned into a media darling, said TV5 reporter James Velasquez, stating that Martinez was fielding interview requests left and right. And the kid is only beginning a storied journey.
The youngest competitor in the field spoke right after his performance at the Iceberg Skating Palace on Friday, expressing his elation following his stint. "The first half was pretty good, but halfway though the program I got out of breath, but I did my best all the way through. This is the first time I landed the triple axel in the second half of the program."
Martinez, whose 184.25 points was good for 14th place after 19 performances at time of publish, is already looking forward to the next Winter Games in South Korea.
"My goal is to qualify again for the next Winter Olympics," he said.
"If I can get more support financially, I'm thinking about the next Olympics."
For the Olympian, who has become an overnight local hero and has served as inspiration his countrymen, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Martinez has a lot more in store in the future; he will only get better. The world awaits. - Rappler.com with reports from AFP
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