Didal motivated by more than just a medal; PH skateboarder wants respect
Margielyn Didal understands exactly how people see skateboarders, especially those that grew up in rougher streets. After all, that image is not far from reality.
“We look dirty because we are trying to land a trick and we get dusty,” Didal said in an interview with tokyo2020.org. “Most people, when they see a skateboarder, they say ‘you don’t have a future there, they are just hanging on the street.’”
And they understand why people are shaking their heads now—this time in astonishment.
“And now we’re expecting to be in the Olympics,” she said.
Didal is ranked 14th in the world among female skateboarders. If she keeps her form, the reigning Asian and Southeast Asian champion will formalize an entry to the Tokyo Olympics, which had invites for the world’s Top 20.
If you find it hard to picture a former street urchin who used to be chased away by security guards from malls whose open spaces become makeshift skate parks, you are not alone.
“I still can’t imagine representing my country and raising the Philippine flag, especially at the Olympics,” Didal said.
But that’s where she’s headed, barring major unforeseen circumstances. And once she gets there, a medal won’t be the only thing she’ll go after. For someone who has spent much of her life trying to escape the clutches of poverty, Didal has never been blind to the big-picture causes.
“Skateboarding is not for fame. [It’s] about the vibe of doing [your] passion. We just want respect, not just in skateboarding, but [in] whatever status [of] life, even [for] the kids in the street or street vendors.”
Didal began skateboarding as a means of escape from reality.
“[Skateboarding] is the best way to escape problems for me,” she said. “Sometimes, if you [are] overthinking on a skateboard you can’t think of other stuff; you only need to think of the skateboard, yourself and the trick.”
And then the motivation became something more tangible.
“Skateboarding is fun [but] for me I just want to help my parents. We’re a big family. We are five siblings, and are now getting bigger.”
Didal is a beneficiary of the Olympic solidarity scholar program that the International Olympic Committee set up to give talented athletes from less advantaged countries an equal chance of reaching the Games.
Locked down in her home in Cebu City by a health crisis that has gripped the world, Didal does practice runs in a four-foot tall quarter pipe on their roof that her father, a carpenter, built.
“I asked my dad to build the quarter pipe … so I can just skate back and forth in the small space.”
She’ll have all the space she wants in Tokyo, when she guns for victory and validation.
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