January 4 - Philippine figure skater Michael Martinez (pictured), who hopes to win an unprecedented gold medal for his country, has been left without support and forced to travel to the United States to get into his best condition ahead of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, it has been claimed.
Martinez, 15, who began his ice-skating career as a nine-year-old, has won some 188 medals during a glittering youth career to date, winning competitions across the world from Australia to the US.
"The Golden Boy" of Philippine ice skating, as he has been labelled, Martinez's mother Maria told insidethegames of the struggles that her son has had in getting support from authorities in the country ahead of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics.
"In the Philippines it always [on a] 'whom you know' basis," she told insidethegames.
"There is no financial support to Michael until today – not even a single cent!
"The Philippine Government and Philippine Skating Union (PSU) abandoned him in this very important competition."
The Philippine Government, represented by the country's Sports Commission (PSC), offer various financial rewards and assistance to sports officials, coaches and athletes under the Republic Acts 9064 and 6847 but Maria insists that her son – who has received numerous awards for his performances and achievements – should receive a contribution towards his training.
With 146 gold medals among his collection and having claimed victory at the Hollin's Trophy in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year, Martinez would – on paper – seem to be well placed to meet the criteria set out in the Act to receive financial support.
He also won the Asian Junior Figure Skating Challenge in November to maintain his impressive form going into Innsbruck.
As yet though, that support has been limited to the Philippine Olympic Committee agreeing to pay for Martinez's airfare to Austria for the Youth Olympic Games and he has been forced to travel to California to train, and is staying with a family friend.
This is due to the poor condition of ice in the Philippines and the lack of quality coaches there, Maria Martinez said, though the coaching fees in the USA mean that they have struggled to keep his training going in the build-up to the Games, which begin on January 13.
Neither the PSC, Olympic Committee or the PSU could be reached for comment.
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