Michael Martinez first put on a pair skating shoes at eight-years-old. An effort had been made to find where his real talents lie; the Paranaque-born figure-skater recalls having tried ramp modeling, hip-hop, and voice lessons as a kid. Eventually, the young Martinez settled on ice-skating after a coach commended his prowess on the ice. The rest, as they say, belongs to the ages.
“Apparently figure skating was the only one that worked for me,” Martinez tells Overseas Filipino. “A coach approached me and told me I was good in skating and that I should try out to compete in Singapore. I said I’d try even though I felt like I couldn’t do it. When I did, I won a couple of gold medals and that really opened my eyes.”
Just last April, Martinez returned form Pyeongchang, South Korea where he participated in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
This is not the first time the Pinoy Ice Prince has had to bear the Philippine flag on the world stage; he is celebrated as the first skater from Southeast Asia (from a tropical country) to make it to the Olympics, and he was the only athlete to represent the Philippines at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“I believe that we Filipinos are built to perform in front of an audience,” Martinez shares. “That helped me. We work hard in what we do. And we tend to be very passionate in what we do so that helped me out to be able to achieve all the things I’ve done.”
The 21-year-old has never rested on his laurels; his entire life since he was eight has been spent in training. After bowing out in the preliminaries at this year’s Winter Olympics, the dedicated athlete has had to reckon with some harsh realities.
Still, Martinez his unfazed and optimistic. He nods to his family as the rock he can lean on, and skating as the object of his passion.
“My life is not easy,” the Martinez avers bluntly. “A lot of people see me as the happy smiling Michael Martinez, but I see myself as just a normal person. Not a lot of people know that I’ve gone through a lot. Skating is the only one, and (my family) there right now, that helped me to be who I am right now.”
Michael Martinez is currently preparing for the 2019 Asian Games. He is @mz_viral on Instagram.