TOKYO—Margielyn Didal booked a women’s street finals seat in skateboarding where the goddesses of the sport failed to live up to the hype on Monday morning at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.
Didal landed at seventh with 12.02 points (two runs and five tricks), enough to send her to the eight-athlete finals that will be missing big time names including world No. 1 Pamela Rosa and six-time X-Games champion Leticia Buffoni, both from Brazil, who struggled with their tricks.
Japan’s Funa Nakayama (15.77) and Momiji Nishiya (15.40) finished 1-2 in the qualifiers.
Layssa Real, the world No. 2, salvaged some pride for the favored Brazilians.
Skateboarding is one of four sports making their debut in the Games—the others are surfing, karate and sports climbing—and the entire Philippines will be watching as to whether the free and easy Cebuana could be at par with the world’s best in perhaps one of the most exciting and surprise-filled sports.
“She’s alright and ready,” Didal’s coach, Daniel Bautista, told BusinessMirror. “She’s just chilling about.”
Didal went her usual way practicing on Sunday at the Ariake Sports Park, a facility Skateboard Pilipinas president Carl Sambrano described as a “full court” if it was a basketball court.
“Kung baga sa basketball, dati half court lang ang inilalaro mo, ngayon full court,” Sambrano said. “The competitors will do battle in a bigger, grander course.”
Didal’s event—women’s street—starts with the preliminaries 8:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m. in Manila) with the final set is at 1:30 p.m.
“The duration is the same. It’s still 45 seconds but in a bigger play,” Sambrano said. “The participants will make two runs and perform five tricks.”
Didal won gold medals at the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games and the Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games, but at the Tokyo Olympics, the 22-year-old is ranked No. 17 and expecting world-class challenges from skateboarders from powerhouse US, Brazil and Japan. She gets the opportunity on Monday to bring her skatebeoarding act to the world’s biggest sporting stage—the Olympics.
World Nos. 1 and 2 Pamela Rosa and Rayssa Leal of Brazil, No. 3 Aori Nishimura of Japan, Leticia Bufoni also of Brazilian and Momiji Nishiya also of the host country will be bringing the skateboarding competitions—which also features events in park—to levels that could exceed X-Games feats.
“The world’s best are here and we expect the competition to be very tough,” Bautista said, adding Didal didn’t tinker much with her tricks.“She’ll basically do the same tricks that she’d used in past competitions, but we trained focused on limiting mistakes.”