An exclusive one-on-one with Michael Christian Martinez and his mom, Ms. Tess Martinez
By Brian Yalung
Manila, Philippines “Aim high and you can do it”
These were the words that came from no less than Michael Christian Martinez, the 17-year old Filipino ice skater who captured the admiration of Filipinos when he became the first individual to represent the country in the recently concluded 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
During a private party hosted by Michael’s mother club, Metro Ice, we were given the chance to have an exclusive one-on-one with Michael and his mother Tess. All of it was made possible by Metro Ice founder Ms. Mel Damian and parent Smith Chua.
Michael believes that he still needs a lot of training and a lot would depend on the support he would be getting. For now however, Michael savors his triumph, a dream come true for this 17 year old lad.
“I feel very happy and proud that I competed there and represented the Philippines” said Michael.
And while his feat is now in the record books as one of the firsts, such was not really on his mind when Michael set foot in Russia.
“I just wanted to compete. When I first got there, I didn’t feel the pressure. But when I first stepped on the ice, when the competition started, that’s when I realized, oh this is “really” the Olympics” he added.
So what was he thinking once everything sunk in?
“I just told myself, don’t waste the time because I will be performing 2 minutes and 50 seconds and I have been training for four and a half years.”
Now that Michael has reached celebrity status, how does he plan to handle all that?
“Ahh I don’t know. When I first got here a lot of people greeted me, people welcoming me… I didn’t really expect that. I was expecting just maybe some interviews, press conferences and some picture taking but I was not really expecting the big crowds. It is just overwhelming” he replied.
So what do we expect from Michael from here on?
“Well, I’ll be working on my quadruple jumps so I can compete with the veteran skaters in the next Winter Olympic Games. I will try to get a medal there” he replied.
Injuries? Although not something new for skaters, Michael admits he has a lot.
“Both of my knees hurt and I do have a torn ligament and a partial tear. I have two torn ligaments on my ankles, one of which is a partial tear and the other with a complete tear.”
A bad fall almost prevented Michael from performing at Sochi and it took two X-ray readings on his hip before he was finally cleared to participate.
“Noong first reading, sabi fractured daw. So pinaulit ko. Noong inulit tinignan ang ibang views, ok naman daw pala” narrated Michael’s mother Tess Martinez.
“Sabi sa akin nung una it was very serious, he (Michael) had to withdraw. Kinabahan din ako kasi nasa taas ako at nakita ko na masama talaga ang bagsak.”
This happened on February 4 before the opening ceremony.
Despite the initial findings and notice, Michael would hear nothing of it.
“I just said no, no, I can still walk, see?” he said with a chuckle.
We asked Mrs. Martinez if they were setting their sights on a medal in the Free Skating round.
With a swollen hip and other injuries taking their toll, she admitted that the odds had become too high for her son. Michael would have a difficult time with his usual routine.
Topping it all off was the fact that Michael lacked sleep.
“Talagang kulang siya (Michael) sa tulog eh. He slept for only about three hours and then entering a free skate which is so difficult? Swerte pa nga nakaabot siya ng 19th place. I was so nervous talaga” Mrs. Martinez said.
“There was a doping test eh. The short program finished about 11 in the evening and they had to stay to find out who would be picked in the random doping test. His doping test finished around 3 a.m. Then he had to wake up early for 7:30 a.m. practice. So he had to wake up earlier for stretching and breakfast. It was really stressful.”
Despite the odds, Ms. Martinez simply told her son, “Andyan ka na eh, kahit makulelat ka, ok lang sa akin. Kahit mag 24 ka at least pasok ka na.”
“Pero talagang sloppy performance niya. His score was so low compared to the previous scores niya” she added.
Apparently the journey is not yet over for Michael and his mom and that they had a lot of work to do still. She also revealed that Michael’s Russian coach was disappointed at their sudden homecoming which could have been used for more training time.
With little time left before Michael’s next competition, injuries and obviously added pressure are mounting for the youthful skater from Metro Ice.
And hopefully and through prayers, they hope to churn out yet another graceful and magical performance to make the Filipino nation proud.
Mrs. Tess Martinez and Michael are set to leave the country on February 27.