HK training expected to boost Didal’s Tokyo bid

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    HONG KONG. — Street skateboard champion Margielyn Arda Didal is set to wind up her 11-day training stint here which should come in handy when she resumes her bid to earn a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with the first Olympic qualifying meet this year set Feb. 4 to 9 in Melbourne, Australia.

    Didal, who followed up her gold-medal performance in the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia with two mints in her Southeast Asian Games debut last month, has been training at the newly-opened skate park at the Mei Foo District here since Jan. 6 and is set to return home Friday.

    The facility was designed and built by the same company that constructed the venue for the Tokyo Olympics, according to Hong Kong-based national team manager Anthony Claravall.

    Joining the talented Cebuana in her stint here are Mark Renzo Feliciano, a silver medalist in the men’s street skateboard event in the 30th SEA games, and promising Cindy Lucerna, 16, of Bacolod City.

    All three were invited to train at the Mei Foo skatepark by Claravall, the marketing chief of US sports gear giant New Balance for Asia and the Pacific.

    Claravall bared Didal’s schedule during dinner at a popular Chinese restaurant in Causeway Bay he hosted for the team over the weekend.

    “There are eight to nine Olympic qualifying events before the cut-off in June and Margie will pick the competitions where she can get the most maximum points,” he said. “Definitely, she will be in Melbourne for her first Olympic qualifying event this year.”

    With 20 Olympic slots up for grabs, Didal is currently ranked No. 14 in the women’s street skateboard world rankings, although Claravall said she can even be higher since a country is limited to two entries in the event where some have as many as three in the top 20.

    “I believe that given this factor, Margie is now No. 12,” he said of the New Balance brand endorser.

    Claravall, a former skateboard enthusiast, pointed out “that based on her current form, Margie is easily among the top 10 in the world today and should make it safely to Tokyo.

    “But qualifying for the Olympics and winning a medal are two different things, which is what we are working on now.”