Manila on ice: YOG athlete Michael Christian Martinez creates history for the Philippines

When Michael Christian Martinez stepped on to the ice in the Iceberg Skating Palace at the Sochi 2014, he became the first figure skater from the Philippines to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.

Not bad for someone who learned how to skate in a shopping mall.

"I started skating in 2005 when I was nine years old. We were in a shopping mall and I saw other skaters jumping and spinning. I wanted to try it," said the 17-year-old, who also first competed at Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Games, gaining a respectable seventh place and still remains the youngest figure skater in the male event at Sochi.

His first contact with the ice was hard, though.

"When I stepped on the ice, I fell right away. But then I got up and started skating around the rink, I loved the sport," Martinez said.

He had tried basketball and swimming, two sports that are more popular in the Philippines, but his asthma made them difficult to pursue.

At the Sochi Games, Martinez performed to the tune of Romeo and Juliet, enthralling judges and the crowd alike.

Martinez’s goal for his first Olympic Winter Games was to make it  into the free skating final which he did last night finishing in 19th place.

Looking ahead he said, "In my next Olympics I want to compete for a medal. I feel like I'm catching up, I'm improving," he said. "All I want to do is to make my mother proud."

He has done that already. Plus he made history in his sport and for his country.

Sonali Prasad