Earlier today, after a 30-hour flight from Sochi, Russia, ice skater Michael Christian Martinez and his mom Maria Teresa went straight to the SM Mall of Asia to a warm homecoming from fellow Filipinos. The event was hosted by Patricia Bermudez-Hizon and Divine Lee of TV5.
The 17-year-old made history and brought much honor to the Philippines by being the very first home grown figure skater to represent the country and Southeast Asia in the recent 2014 Winter Olympics. Michael ranked 19th out of 24 in the men's singles, a great achievement for someone from a tropical nation.
This admirable young man first started ice skating at age 8 in SM Southmall Skating Rink. Eventually, he transferred to SM Mall of Asia Skating Rink, which is bigger, to continue his trainings. Michael's participation in various local and international competitions has already garnered him 194 medals and trophies. What qualified him for the Sochi Olympics was clinching 7th place at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
Mr. Ed Tejerero, President of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLE) shared that the SM skating rinks were created to allow Filipinos to also experience the kind of entertainment that four-season countries enjoy. "Little did we know that through this, we'd also be able to hone the first ever South East Asian Winter Olympian," he said.
SM Prime Holdings, Inc. President Hans T. Sy expressed how proud they are of Michael. "He is a shining example to the youth as someone who saw no limits to what he can achieve. He has already inspired millions by following his dream and by competing in the Winter Olympics and will continue to inspire us all as he works towards earning more medals in future Olympic competitions."
Mr. Sy surprised Michael this afternoon with a USD$10,000 cheque from SM Foundation, Inc. SM also gave the shy yet zealous Olympian a Lifetime Skating Privilege that allows him to skate for free on any of SM's skating rinks. In addition, Michael was presented with a Global Pinoy Card as an honorary member since SM believes in rewarding each and every hardworking Filipino who has achieved success abroad.
Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, on the other hand, gave Michael a symbolic "key to the city".
Michael Martinez's homecoming is sweet but short though as he will be leaving the country again on the 27th to go to Sofia, Bulgaria where he would compete on March 10 to 16 in the prestigious World Junior Figure Skating Championships where he ranked 5th overall last year. Let's pray that he earns a medal this time following his experience at, and training for, the Winter Olympics.
After that, Michael will train in the United States to prepare for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Championships series that will begin in August.
While he's still in the country, catch this young man dazzle on ice as he gives a special performance at SM Southmall tomorrow, February 24 at 4PM. Those who want to meet and greet Michael can get that chance when he performs on Tuesday, February 25, at Mall of Asia at 12NN and 4PM at SM Megamall.
*More photos taken during the press conference at SM Mall of Asia can be found here