She’s conquered the Philippines and Asia on her trusty skateboard, but Margielyn Didal’s biggest challenge yet looms next month: the Olympic Games.
Didal was assured of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics—where skateboarding makes its debut as a medal event—scheduled in July owing to her world ranking of No. 13.
The Skateboarding Association of the Philippines (SAP) announced this Saturday despite the 22-year-old Didal not qualifying directly for the Olympics after participating in the World Street Skateboarding Championships in Rome, where she placed 17th after the semifinals.
“I didn’t make it to the finals but I’m stoked to be here and skate with the homies!” said Didal on her Instagram account. A podium finish in Italy would have given her direct entry to the quadrennial Games.
Still, the world’s top 16 skateboarders automatically qualify for the Olympiad, making Didal the 10th Filipino athlete to make it to the Tokyo Olympic—which itself is gripped by cancellation fears over the COVID-19 pandemic after it was already postponed last year.
Still, if the Games push through, the Cebu native, the daughter of a carpenter and a sidewalk vendor, has a real chance to be the first Filipino ever to bring home an Olympic gold medal.
“The official announcement of qualified skaters will only be released after the World Championships Finals in Rome, but Skate Pilipinas would like to be the first to announce that our very own @margielyndidal has earned a slot for the Tokyo Olympics.
Congratulations Margie! Mabuhay ka Margie!” the SAP said in an Instagram post.
Didal burst onto the sporting scene by winning gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, where skateboarding also made its debut. Four years later, she remains Asia’s No. 3 in the sport she picked up as a teenager at the now-shuttered Concave Park in Cebu City.
Didal also won two gold medals in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which the Philippines hosted. But earning gold in the Olympics—something no Filipino has done since the country first joined the Games in 1924 -- would put the Cebuana on a pedestal no local athlete has stepped on.
Qualifying for the Tokyo Games, however, is already a resounding achievement for Didal, who has lifted the profile of skateboarding in the Philippines and could give it wider acceptance in the country with a golden finish.
Other Filipino Olympic qualifiers are pole vaulter EJ Obiena; gymnast Carlos Yulo; boxers Irish Magno; Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, and Carlo Paalam; weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; rower Cris Nievarez; and taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa.
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