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Michael posted on Facebook “Thank you very much for all the support and prayers. I am very proud to represent our country again here at PyeongChang2018.” © Getty Images
Martinez opens the door for winter sports in Philippines

16 Feb 2018
Gangneung, Korea, February 16, 2018: The door may have closed on figure skater Michael Christian Martinez in PyeongChang on Friday, but his inspirational displays in two consecutive Winter Olympics have opened plenty of doors back home in the Philippines. After finishing 19th on his Olympic debut at Sochi in 2014, Martinez was called up only last month for PyeongChang 2018 when Sweden declined its quota place and the Philippines was first alternate.

With so little time to prepare physically, mentally and technically, it was hardly a surprise when Martinez scored only 55.56 points in his short programme and finished 28th of 30 skaters. Only the top 24 went through to Saturday’s free skate – an accomplishment he achieved comfortably in 2014. However, Martinez feels his Olympic appearances have contributed to a changing sporting landscape back home - and proved that athletes can succeed against the odds.

“I did my part and I was able to do what they were saying that, no, I can’t do it….you are from the Philippines, you won’t be able to do it…it’s a tropical country. But I said, you know what, it doesn’t matter,” he said, after his short programme. “So when I did the Sochi I was able to open doors and I was able to open their eyes…and it does not matter, you can do it.

“I was really happy that I was able to inspire a lot of athletes, especially back home, and they were able to produce a hockey team and now they are speed skating. There’s a lot of things going on there.” Martinez, who trains in Los Angeles, California, thought his PyeongChang dreams were over when he failed to qualify from the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany last September – until he received the call last month.

He said that skaters would normally need between two to three months to get back to full fitness on and off the ice after such a lengthy lay-off, and his post-skating fitness work and body-building had changed his body mass and muscle. He weighed 145 pounds (around 60kg) for his figure skating but his weight climbed to 165 pounds due to his body building, so he dropped quickly to 150 pounds simply by not eating.

Despite failing to qualify for the free skate, Michael had no regrets about accepting the late invitation. “It was not the best, not the same as before,” he said of his performance, “but I was able to do everything so it’s fine,” he said.
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