Filipino qualifies to medal round of men's figure skating in Sochi Olympics

MANILA, Philippines-Michael Christian Martinez, the Philippines' first Winter Olympian in more than two decades, advanced to the medal round of the men's figure skating competition in Sochi late Thursday (Manila time).

The 17-year-old Martinez impressed on the rink with a smooth performance-nailing the triple Axel jump - and earned a score of 64.81 (33.31 technical, 31.50 component), which was good for 19th place at the conclusion of the competition.

As his score was being announced, the homegrown figure skater flashed a white jacket emblazoned with the word "Philippines."

Even before setting foot on the rink, Martinez already made history by being the first figure skater to represent the Philippines and Southeast Asia in the Winter Games.

Martinez, who was fifth on the start list, donned a black-and-white suit with gold accent and performed to the tune of "Romeo and Juliet" by Arthur Fiedler.

Martinez earlier held the fourth spot but later dropped further as other nations concluded. Nonetheless, he is through to the next round of the competition.

At the close, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu claimed the no. 1 spot with an impressive score of 101.45, followed by Canada's Patrick Chan with 97.52 points, and Patrick Fernandez of Spain with 86.98 points.

The top 24 figure skaters advanced to free skate programme slated Friday 11pm, which will determine the podium finishers.

Russian figure skating legend Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the competition and later on announced his retirement.