Didal vows to unveil unique stunts vs big-time Tokyo rivals
When she speaks, Margielyn Didal’s words skip back-and-forth from optimism to reality.
When, for example, the skateboarder from Cebu says she is “confident” she can compete toe-to-toe with the world’s best, it is an expression of her indomitable will.
“I am confident I can do it,” Didal told reporters in a roundtable session on Friday.
But when she talks about the competition she will face in the Tokyo Olympics, it is truth in its purest form.
“[The field’s] really tough,” Didal said. “We have strong competitors from the United States, Brazil and Tokyo. And all of them have, like, the best skate parks. They have … facilities everywhere in their country.”
“And even in their [respective] hometowns, they have a lot of skate parks. So they can train without traveling,” she added.
The roster of skateboarders who will compete in the sport’s Olympic debut includes Didal’s childhood idol and former world No. 1 Leticia Bufoni of Brazil.
Didal’s credentials are nothing to sneer at either. She is the reigning champion of both Asia and Southeast Asia. However, the field in Tokyo will be vastly different. In the 2018 Asian Games, for example, Didal seized the gold by beating fellow teenagers Isa Kaya (silver) of Japan and Nyimas Bunga of Indonesia—none of whom qualified for Tokyo.
In Tokyo, Didal will face the likes of Bufoni, 28, and fellow Brazilians Pamela Rosa, 21, and 13-year-old Rayssa Leal. Japanese stars Naori Ishimura, Fuma Nakayama and 13-year-old Momishi Nijiya, meanwhile, are expected to shine on home turf. But that reality doesn’t dampen Didal’s hopes.
“I know that I have a bag of tricks that they do not have,” the 22-year-old said with a smile.That bag was difficult to fill as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered already scarce practice venues in the country.
Fortunately, Didal was able to address those problems last summer.
With the help of pal Boots Aganas and Red Bull, she was able to get an indoor skate park in Soul Sierra built to her specifications—a vast improvement from the quarter pipe handmade by her father last year.
Not only did the bespoke facility enable Didal dial in for the global meet, it also boosted her morale.
“I learned a lot,” she said of her time back at home. “During the pandemic, I spent time with my family. While I struggled in training, it’s [inspired] me to do good.”So expect Didal to be her usual, goofy and almost carefree self once the competition gets going.
“That’s the point of it all: Still having fun,” she said. “That’s the goal of being in the Olympics.”
Didal is hoping to log one more training camp before she plunges into action, according to her coach Daniel Bautista.
“We’ll leave early July for Los Angeles for our last training camp and then we plan to fly to Tokyo on July 18 and have five days practice before the competition,” he said.“We’re going to find obstacles closest to the course in the Olympics,” he said.
Skateboarding will offer two golds each in the men’s and women’s divisions in Tokyo, street and park. According to the New York Times, the street arena will resemble a city street, and competitors will perform tricks on stairs, railings and benches. The park venue will feature deep bowls and curves.
The events will be played at Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. INQ
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