Didal skates way to Tokyo Olympics

From being chased by the police to chasing the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal.

Margielyn Didal completed her journey to the biggest, most prestigious sports event in the world after World Skate released the final list of qualifiers in the Tokyo Olympics next month.

The 22-year-old Didal compiled 31250 points in eight out of nine international tournaments to land on the 17th place in the world women’s street skateboarding ranking that formally made her the 10th Filipino in the Summer Games.

Despite dropping from 13th to 17th place, Didal still emerged as the lone Southeast Asian skater in the Olympics after three of the top six skateboarders from Brazil have qualified.

According to World Skate, only the top three skateboarders per country would punch a ticket to the prestigious meet, prompting Pamela Rosa, Rayssa Leal and Leticia Bufoni to represent Brazil.

Rosa and Bufoni advanced via the world ranking while Leal qualified after emerging third in the Street Skateboarding World Championship in Rome last week.

Host Japan would be represented by Aori Nishimura and Momiji Nishiya while powerhouse United States will parade Mariah Duran, Alexis Sablone and Alana Smith in the first-ever staging of skateboarding in the Olympics.

Didal’s qualification is such a feel-good twist to her athletic career that started in the bustling city of Cebu.

According to sports commissioner Mon Fernandez, Didal came from a poor family in the Lahug district and started her skateboarding career in the streets, prompting police and other authorities to chase and drive her away.

But everything changed three years ago.

When Didal won the gold medal in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018 and represented Cebu City in a tournament in United Kingdom, Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña realized that skateboarding is a healthy sport that could bring pride and glory to the country.

With that, the local government unit (LGU) of Cebu established a skatepark and threw its all-out support to its newest hero until she won two gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games and a handful of international honors.

“When she won the gold medal in the Asian Games, people’s perspective on skateboarding changed, especially the LGU and the police,” Fernandez, a native of Cebu City, said.

“This is definitely a healthy sport for kids. If you were able to watch the competition, there are a lot of young teenagers so they really have to start young in this sport just like Margielyn did.”

With Didal’s feat, she will join boxers Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno and Nesthy Petecio in the Olympics together with stars like Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, Cris Nievarez of rowing, Kurt Barbosa of taekwondo, Carlos Yulo of gymnastics and EJ Obiena of athletics.

Fernandez said Didal’s persistence and determination is something worth emulating, especially among young athletes who also dream of making it to the Olympics.

“Her dreams are coming true. Being able to represent the country in this sport is such a big achievement. I hope she will do well in Tokyo.”

Date: June 11, 2021 | By: Ivan Suing | Newspaper: Tribune | Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2021/06/11/didal-skates-way-to-tokyo-olympics/