In the lobby of a luxury hotel, Michael Christian Martinez balanced on one leg and swung the other forward. The lanky 17-year-old was on the ball of his foot and looked like he was about to spring upward into the air.
- Catholic News Service
'I've been in therapy for almost three weeks,' said Martinez. 'I'm having this feeling like I need to go. It feels like I'm getting crazy like when I'm not in the ice because I've been there and my life (has been) in the ice for so long.'
Less than two months before the Winter Olympics, Martinez was off the ice, being treated for an inflamed knee. He told Catholic News Service it was one of many injuries likely caused by skating on the rough ice in the Philippines.
Martinez, ranked fifth in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, will be the first skater ever to represent the Philippines in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
In eight short years, the shy kid from a Manila suburb made a life for himself on the ice, where he said he feels like he has 'super powers,' despite some significant challenges. The most obvious challenge: being from a tropical country that has only two skating rinks, without competition-grade ice or competition-level training.
Martinez has asthma, which kept him indoors and away from sports for practically all of his childhood until he discovered ice skating at a shopping mall. He pushed hard for a maintenance regiment when his doctor initially advised against it. But the biggest hurdle has been scarce funds to pay for a coach at competition time.
Martinez said he regularly feels intense pressure before a competition, not because he has to impress judges, but 'because of lack of training, lack of a coach. The jumps make me really nervous because they're not consistent.'