Palembang—Her mother can stop selling kwek-kwek now.
Margielyn Arda Didal, who honed her skateboarding skills in the streets of Lahug, Cebu City, turned her hobby into a pathway to fame and fortune as she delivered the Philippines’ fourth gold in the 18th Asian Games at the JSC Skate Park in Jakabaring Sports City here on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Didal, the favorite to win the women’s street skate gold here, owing to her eighth-place finish in the 2018 Street League Skateboarding PRO Open in London, England, was peerless in her performance.
Living up to all the pre-game hype and expectations, Didal scored a dominant 30.4 in a smashing Asian Games debut that was way ahead of the eventual silver medalist’s score as Japan’s Isa Kaya placed a distant second with 25.0 points from the combined two runs and two top tricks.
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Nyimas Bunga of Indonesia took the bronze with a tally of 19.8 in this captivating millennial sport making its maiden appearance in the quadrennial, 45-nation sportsfest and will also see its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Didal’s gold netted her a total windfall of P6 million in incentives from the government and private patrons.
“Bibigay ko po sa nanay ko para makapagtayo kami ng small business (I will give my prize to my mother that we may be able to put up a small business),” said Didal of her plans of giving her bonus to her mom, a sidewalk vendor of “kwek-kwek” (eggs fried in flour) near the Concave Skate Park in Lahug, Cebu City, where the athlete was discovered by coach Danny Gutierrez seven years ago.
“I am very happy I did my best. Sobra ang saya po, lalung –lalo na sa mga skateboarders natin (I am really excited, particularly for our fellow skateboarders),” said the hubby Didal.
“Gusto ko rin na maipakita na (I would also like to show that) skateboarding is a serious sport (and) can also be fun as well.”
The gold, was the Philippines’ fourth in the games, to go with 13 bronze medal that put the country at 16th overall, but still behind Southeast Asian Games rivals Thailand (10th, 9 golds), Vietnam (14th, 4 golds, 12 silvers) and Malaysia (15th, 4 golds, 10 silvers).
All four gold medals by the Philippines here were won by women athletes, counting Hidilyn Diaz’s victory in weightlifting and the double-gold sweep of a women’s golf team led by Yuka Saso.
This is also the Philippines’ best performance in eight years, since its 3-4-9 Gold-Silver-Bronze harvest in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Didal is one of the stars of the growing skateboarding scene back home.
This year, she earned the distinction as the first Filipina to be invited to compete in the X-Games in Minneapolis.
A veteran of the prestigious Street League championships in London last May, Didal, the first Southeast Asian to be invited to the event, led from start to finish, setting the tone of the lopsided contest with an opening score of 6.7 points, highlighted by a difficult ”Board Slide” on the railings after taking the higher platform.
Using an 8Five2 yellow skateboard, she displayed her own version of hang time with an “Ollie” on her second run to go comfortably ahead with 14.4 points to second-running Isa’s 13.3, and seemingly was just getting started.
In the tricks section, where the two best scores out of five tries count, Didal went full throttle with another “Board Slide” to net 6.0 in her initial run, took it easy with a 3.7 output in the second, before wrapping the gold up with eye-popping scores of 7.1 and 8.9 points in the third and fourth attempts.
With a flair for the dramatic, her coup de grace was an acrobatic “Backside 50/50, 360-degree Flip Out” that drew oohs and ahhs from the gallery—an astonishing feat considering that it was the first time she did it in a major international competition.
“This was the first time that Margielyn tried that stunt and is the highest score garnered by any skateboarder so far in the street event,” said Skateboard Association of the Philippines Inc. president Monty Mendigoria.
Didal and the rest of the skateboarding team were scheduled to return to Manila on Thursday in what undoubtedly will be a hero’s welcome for the country’s latest golden Asian Games sensation.
“Congratulations, Margie. The country is grateful for your efforts and sacrifices,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez in statement from Manila immediately after learning of the Cebuana’s accomplishment.
“We are arranging a hero’s welcome for you. Your PSC family is behind you all the way. Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino.”
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