Margielyn Didal might not have taken home a medal from the Tokyo Olympics, but this sparkplug of a skater has been winning hearts since her wheels touched the podium.
The 22-year-old Cebuana, who finished seventh during the women's street finals, calls her Olympics journey "epic" and says the biggest difference was knowing the whole world was watching her skate.
Good vibes only
Nangungulit lang talaga ako! Ineenjoy ko lang yung event and being Margie. 'Di ko alam na may magscreenshot or screen record ng mga kalokohan ko.
Even when she was struggling with some of her tricks, Margie lifted her chin up with an infectious smile on her face. She also continued to cheer on fellow competitors, something she says is innate in the skateboarding scene.
"It doesn’t matter what your nation, your culture, or what language you speak because we have the same passion," the skater shared. "It’s all about the vibes and you’re surrounded with people having the same passion."
"In skateboarding, we’re also like a family, not just competitors. We cheer each other on. Yung mindset namin sa skateboarding is to cheer each other on, wish na mabuo yung trick, and na walang masaktan."
In the past weeks, we've also seen the 22-year-old skateboarder go viral with her hilariously captioned photo with Tony Hawk and her meme-worthy photobombing of Brazilian skater Leticia Bufoni.
"Nangungulit lang talaga ako," Margie shares. "Ineenjoy ko lang yung event and being Margie. 'Di ko alam na may magscreenshot or screen record ng mga kalokohan ko."
She also talks about how she didn't expect to see her face all over Facebook as a profile picture frame. "Natatawa din ako na makita yung mukha ko kahit saan! Sa Facebook, may ginawa sila yung added na frame when you do profile photo tapos andun ako nakasmile. [I thought] ang kulit niyo ah. So ginawa ko rin," she laughs.
Being friendly comes naturally to Margie. She shares how she became friends with gold and silver medalists for women's street skateboarding Japan's Momiji Nishia and Brazil's Rayssa Leal.
"We’ve been competing in most qualifying events. Ako yung nangungulit sa kanila. We speak different languages but I’m the one who’s finding ways to talk to them and they’ve improved their English! I’m happy for both of them!" she cheers.
Cultivating the local skate scene
Skateboarding is seen as a "tambay" sport here in the Philippines and Margie hopes that will all change. "Nakita na, especially here in the Philippines, may big chance tayo sa Olympics with skateboarding."
The young shredder says the skate scene in the country is already big—she's been skating for almost a decade now—but skateboarding as a sport is new. To continue pushing for the sport in the Philippines, more skate facilities are needed.
Margie and coach Dani Bautista share how training for skateboarding takes practicing every day, which they found difficult during the pandemic. Due to the lack of facilities here in the country, Filipino skaters had to train abroad—but the lockdowns bound Margie and her team in Cebu.
Amid the pandemic, Margie was able to train thanks to Redbull building a skate park in Cebu.
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"It was a very big deal [for us] because [building the skate park] happened during the lockdown. If it weren't for Redbull, Margie wouldn't have been skating for a year," Coach Dani notes.
Aside from facilities, he adds that Skate Pilipinas plans to invest in funding for grassroots skating programs, getting coaches, acquiring equipment, and starting workshops to cement skateboarding as a sport locally.
What's next for Margie?
Currently, Margie's recovering from an injury she sustained from their last day of training in Los Angeles. But once she gets back home to Cebu, she'll be training once again for Street League in Salt Lake City, Utah happening this August.
The team has their sights set on Paris 2024 with qualifiers starting next year.
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Coach Dani and Margie also tease a possible upcoming sneaker collaboration with New Balance, which provided the Filipina skater with her own signature sneakers that she proudly wore during the Olympics, the Margie Didal Pro NM379 'Pilipinas' Sneakers. (You can cop the sneakers here.)
Thumbnail photos from Atiba Jefferson and Ben Curtis/AP.