The Philippines finally ended a 22-year absence from the Winter Olympics when figure skater Michael Martinez secured the spot right at the final qualifying event for the 2014 games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.
The 16-year-old Martinez finished in 7th place in the Nebelhorn Trophy tournament two weeks ago. Growing up in the Manila suburb of Muntinlupa, Martinez entered competitive skating in 2008. According to the International Skating Union, he is the first Filipino to perform a triple axel, a difficult and complicated movement that involves rotating in the air. To date, no skater has performed a quadruple axel.
Martinez’s qualification came three years after snowboarder Eden Serina failed to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Prior to that, the last Winter Olympic athlete from the tropical Southeast Asian country was skier Michael Teruel, who competed in the slalom events at the 1992 games in Albertville, France.