Didal keen to resume Olympic quest


    CEBU-BASED street skateboarding champion Margielyn Arda Didal is keen on resuming her Olympic qualifying campaign, possibly in March once World Skate announces the schedule of ranking competitions towards the end of the month, according to roller sports chief Carl Sambrano.

    “Not that she is excited to go out of the country owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, but gusto na talaga ni Margie (Didal’s nickhame) to travel because of the Olympic qualifiers,” Sambrano, the Roller Sports Association of the Philippines president, said.

    “World Skate and its member associations will have a meeting at the end of the month to announce the schedule of Olympic ranking events to give both its members and athletes a 40-day lead time to prepare for these competitions,” he added.

    In a sterling follow-up to her big win in the women’s street skateboarding meet in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, Didal wowed the hometown crowd in her 30th Southeast Asian Games debut, sweeping both her events at the Tagaytay City Skate Park in 2019.

    Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Bambol Tolentino has cited the athlete as one of the brightest prospects in the country’s bid to end a gold-medal dry spell in the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.

    “I am not sure yet but I was informed that the first Olympic ranking tournament could either be in China or Peru,” Sambrano said, adding the world body had contracted a third party that would supervise the health and safety protocols of the competitions.

    “They hired a group to ensure the health and safety of the participants and so that ranking events could be held every two weeks without them having to undergo quarantine but straight to actual competition,” he explained.

    “The world body wants six Olympic ranking tournaments plus the world championships until July but this might be hard considering the pandemic. Instead of six, the competitions could be reduced to three,” Sambrano said.

    Host Japan is guaranteed one slot in the sport set to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, leaving 19 slots each to be contested in the men’s and women’s divisions of the skateboard street and park events.

    The top 16 at the Olympic ranking cut-off on June 29, 2021 will qualify outright for the Tokyo Summer Games while the gold, silver and bronze medalists in the world skateboarding championship after the ranking tournaments will also advance to the quadrennial global sports showcase.

    Didal is currently ranked No. 14 in the World Skate Olympic qualifying rankings, but she could move up since only a maximum of three entries from one country are allowed to see action in the sport.

    There are five Brazilians ranked higher than petite and perky Cebuana in the ratings, led by Pamela Rosa and Rayssa Leal, who are currently Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
    Despite being cooped up in her hometown of Cebu City, Didal has managed to keep herself in shape and fighting form after Red Bull, of which the athlete is an endorser, built a facility near her residence last June tailored to her requirements.

    “With inputs from Margie herself and national coach Dani Bautista, the facility was made so she would be able to approximate the runs and tricks she intends to do, assuming she goes all the way and qualify for the Olympics,” Sambrano said. “The facility is just 10 to 12 minutes from her home.”