BY ATHENA PABDER
If there’s a congeniality award at the Olympics, Margielyn Didal would surely win gold. Here are several reasons why the Philippines’ ray of sunshine easily gained fans from all over the world after her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Japan.
1. Her smile is contagious
You look at her and you get a feeling you’ve gained a friend. Margielyn is bursting with positivity, which is what the world really needs right now. And her take on going to the nerve-wracking Olympics competition? “Going to Tokyo for sushi!”
2. She doesn’t let defeat get the best of her
She missed a podium finish in the women’s street skateboarding event but Margielyn Didal emerged as a social media favorite, not just in the Philippines but in Japan and Brazil as well. Despite three failed attempts in several rounds and sustained what appeared to be an ankle sprain during the skateboard Olympic game, Didal was all smiles and consistently got back up. She placed 7th but won the hearts of many.
3. She’s a great source of inspiration
Margielyn grew up in Cebu, where her family made a living out of selling kwek-kwek (quail eggs). While out on an errand, she saw a bunch of hobbyists and got interested in skateboarding. Somebody lent her a skateboard, and as the cliche goes, the rest was history.
In a feature by the Olympics, Didal shared her story about breaking several stereotypes: that skateboarding was not only for men, the hobby was not useless, and young girls can dream.
“When I ride my skateboard, I feel like I’m being me. It feels natural. There’s no right and wrong with skateboarding,” Didal said.
And did you know that she also inspired Philippines’ first Olympic Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz? In an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Diaz’s sports psychologist Dr. Karen Trinidad used Margielyn’s disposition to motivate weightlifter Didal before her match.
“I let her watch that kasi maganda yung emotions na pinapakita ni Ms. Didal, na kahit nahuhulog siya she’s smiling and then she’s waving, and according din sa pag-aaral when you’re smiling, lumalabas yung confidence mo, nagiging relaxed ka, nagiging komportable ka, and yun yung kailangan niya during that time—for her to be relaxed, and just focus, one lift at a time.”
4. Margie paves the way
The young athlete also seeks to carve a path for skateboarders, regardless of age and gender. In her Olympics feature video, Didal is also seen teaching young girls not to be scared of trying.
“[I] wish we can have good skatepark/s in [the] Philippines too so that I can share how fun skateboarding is,” Didal said in an Instagram post following her Olympics experience.
A hobby that used to be frowned upon and typically associated with punks or out-of-school youth, skateboarding is now getting recognized as a serious sport in the Philippines, thanks to Didal.
5. She’s out and proud
Margie has a girlfriend and she’s proud of their relationship. In a traditional society like the Philippines, that takes a lot of guts to admit. Love is love and Margie knows that.
6. She seems to tell us, just keep skating!
Even the Tokyo Olympics committee can’t help but notice her happy hues. In its official Twitter account, Tokyo2020 even gave a name to Margie’s gestures after losing in the competition.
This will be known as the "Margielyn Didal seal approval" 🇵🇭🇵🇭 pic.twitter.com/tWolMAQykq
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 26, 2021
Looks like we all have to watch out for what’s next for this rising skateboard star. For now, let’s heed her advice.
“Skateboarding is the same with life. Don’t be afraid to fail or to fall. Do it as long as you’re happy,” said Didal.