As an asthma suffer, Michael Christian Martinez wasn't able to play football, baseball, or many other of the outdoor sports popular among teens. The desire to still pursue sports led him to take up indoor figure skating which eventually led to history in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This 17-year-old Filipino homeschooler is the only athlete representing the Philippines and the first figure skater to represent any Southeast Asian country. “It feels great that I'm here representing the Philippines at the Olympics,” Martinez told NBCOlympics.com in an interview Wednesday. “There is a lot of pressure on me because not only am I skating for my country, but for all the hard work I've put in the last four years.”
His Olympic dream began at the age of nine when Martinez was at a shopping mall in Manila. “I saw skaters doing jumps and spins on the rink at the mall,” he related. “After the first time I tried it I loved the sport already. I feel proud because there are a lot of people that say that because we're a tropical country, we can't do this or we can't do that,” Martinez concluded. “But what I say to them is them is that I'll be the first one to skate in the Olympics. I’m proud of that.”