SEEKING to expand his horizon, two-time Winter Olympic Games veteran Michael Martinez will likely skip the 30th Southeast Asian Games the country will host next year, according to Philippine Skating Union sports director Pico Martin.
“Michael wants to venture into other things so there is a huge possibility we might not see him in Manila for the SEA Game next year,” Martin said on the sidelines of the Philippine National Figure Skating Championships that ended yesterday at the Mall of Asia skating rink.
Martinez, who turned 22 last Nov. 4, had been expected to represent the Philippines and try to win the gold in the men’s figure skating event in front of hometown fans. He captured the silver behind Malaysian champion Julian Yee in the 2017 Malaysia SEA Games.
Martin said the US-based Martinez, the country’s lone figure skating representative in the 2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeonchang Winter Games, recently acquired his American green card and is in the process of securing US citizenship.
He is going the way of chess player Wesley So, who has secured US citizenship and now plays for the United States.
“We haven’t heard from him since the last Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (in February) but Michael wants to pursue other interests such as videography and law. We can only wish him well,” said Martin, who credits the figure skater for the growing popularity of ice skating in the Philippines.
“Our regrets that Michael won’t be around for the Philippine SEA Games but we wish him all the success in his future endeavors,” PSU president Josie Veguillas said.
“Without his achievements, figure staking in the country won’t be where it is now,” he noted, adding the PSU has a wider pool of talents to choose from now since Martinez made his Winter Games debut in Sochi, Russia four years ago.
As the first skater from Southeast Asia to see action in the quadrennial meet, the lean and lanky skater made the country proud by placing 19th overall in the men’s individual figure skating competitions with an aggregate score of 184.25 points, counting his 64.81 points in the short program.
He was a last-minute replacement in the Pyeongchang Winter Games. As a first alternate, he was awarded a slot when Sweden withdrew from the competition.
Martinez placed 28th overall in the short program and failed to make the cut of 24 skaters advancing to the free skate routine.
Martinez began skating at the SM Southmall ice skating rink at the young age of 9 as a means to relieve his asthmatic condition.
The young boy took to the sport like fish to water, winning his first international crown in the 2012 Skate Romania while placing fifth in the world junior skating championships the next year.
In 2013, Martinez achieved a milestone by placing seventh at the Nebelhorn Trophy, the last Winter Olympic qualifying event, in Oberstdof, Germany to book his spot for the Sochi Games.
(B. pedralvez, Malaya)