ADLER, Russia -- Michael Christian Martinez has a room with a view.
"It's like paradise," Martinez, 17, the figure skater from the Philippines, said of his Olympic Village room a few hundred meters from the Black Sea. "When you open the window you see the ocean and the stadiums and you feel the wind. It is so peaceful, so relaxing."
It is a setting that belies the struggle Martinez and his family and friends endured to get him here.
When her son learned that she had mortgaged the family home so he could continue his skating career, Maria Teresa Martinez told him not to think about the family's sacrifice.
"Focus on skating," she said.
So it wasn't until Friday night, at the end of a journey from Southeastern Asian hospitals, a skating start at a Philippines shopping mall, through typhoons, and around Orange County, Calif., rinks to finally center ice at the Olympic Games, that Martinez stepped back and grasped the big picture of his life.
"For me it's great that a lot of people can see how great Filipinos are," he said, "and how talented we are if we're just given a chance."
Martinez's family and friends gave him that chance and on his sport's biggest night he delivered a well-received performance full of promise. A night after becoming the first skater from Southeast Asia to advance to the men's Olympic long program, the Anaheim resident finished 19th overall, only seven spots behind four-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott.
Martinez, the youngest skater in the Olympic long program, started strong Friday, before fading in the routine's second half yet still landing a triple Axel.
"I was out of breath already because of nervousness," he said.
His country's flag bearer in the Sochi opening ceremony and the first Filipino athlete to compete in the Winter Games since 1992, Martinez was born in Paranaque City, a fishing and sailing community that is part of metropolitan Manila. He came down with asthmatic bronchitis when he was just 2 months old and spent much of his early years in and out of hospitals. His asthma prevented Martinez from participating in outdoor sports.
But when he was 8 he decided to try skating after watching skaters on a trip to a local shopping mall with Maria Teresa. Although the cold also aggravated his asthma, Martinez persevered and before long was winning competitions throughout the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Because the only rinks in the Philippines are at malls, Martinez had to share the ice with public skaters, limiting his training. On the advice of local coaches, Martinez moved to the U.S. in 2010, first to Colorado Springs, Colo., and then to Orange County, working with Hall of Fame coach John Nicks, choreographer Phillip Mills, and Ilia Kulik.
Martinez, who lives with a family in Anaheim, was seventh at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Last year he was an impressive fifth at the World Junior Championships. But his rise has come at a steep price. He missed two months in 2009 when he cut his thigh with his skating blade. He was out for three months with torn ankle ligaments in 2011, three months in 2012 with a torn medial knee ligament. Last year, he missed another two months with a broken ankle.
What little financial support Martinez received from the Philippine government disappeared when the country was rocked by typhoons. Typhoons last year also damaged the family's farm in the Luzon province.
With the family's life savings drained, Maria Teresa remortgaged her home to meet the never-ending costs of her son's skating career. Donations from ice rinks at the Philippine shopping mall and friends and family kept Martinez on the road to Sochi, which included a Moscow training camp with famed Russian coach Viktor Kudriavtsev.
Martinez is convinced that with more work with Kudriavtsev he can land the quadruple jumps that are a prerequisite to contend for a medal at the Olympics or World championships. But he and Maria Teresa also wonder how they'll pay for another four years. The view from Olympic Park on Friday night was anything but clear.
"If I can get more support financially," he said, "I'm thinking about the next Olympics and getting a medal there."
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