Daisy Valdez still at peak of her career, forecasts five more years of surfing

Jun 15, 2021
PHOTO: Michael Eijansantos

DAISY Valdez first hit the waves as a surfer at the age of 10. She’s been competing for more than twenty years now.

Now in her early 30s, Valdez, who was part of the six-person national team that flew to El Salvador two weeks ago for the World Surfing Games, also believes that she’s got five more good surfing years ahead of her.

“Masasabi ko sa sarili ko, nasa peak pa ako ng career ko,” she said over phone to Spin.ph.

The team arrived from the Central American country late last week, and, at the time of our interview, was still undergoing the required quarantine.

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After a promising start to the World Surfing Games — the last chance for surfers around the world to qualify for the Olympics — the Philippine team suffered an early exit in the twin breaks of El Sunzal and La Bocana.

It was especially painful for Daisy Valdez, who, after surviving two rounds in the competition’s lower bracket, was hit by a priority interference penalty on her third repechage during Day 4 of the competition.

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Judges ruled a right of way call against the 34-year-old surfer as Valdez and Chile’s Jessica Anderson got ready to take on a wave.

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“Akala ko kasi talaga, it's my priority. Nakita ko, kinuha niya yung alon, which is ang alam ko, priority ko, kaya kinuha ko na siya,” recalled Valdez. “Yun nga, tinayuan din ng [naka-]white [jersey]. First priority pala siya.”

With her score now halved, Valdez knew she had to go double time on the water to escape elimination. Had she been able to take the wave, Valdez said, it would have given her a massive boost. “Nakita ko yung alon na yun, parang bibigyan ako ng mataas na score dun,” she said.

Valdez ended the heat with just 2.53 points, ending her shot at Tokyo.

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    “Sobrang sayang,” she continued. “Syempre, pag-ahon, naiyak ako. Hindi ako naiyak dahil natalo ako. Naiyak ako dahil nanghinayang ako na ang laki ng chance na makapasok pa sa susunod na round.”

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    Still, with the Philippines placing 21st overall in the International Surfing Association’s summary of the El Salvador tiff, surfing in the country is looking forward to a brighter future. The sport’s profile is sure to be raised even further now that it’s an official Olympic medal sport.

    And Valdez is determined to be part of it.

    “Tatagal pa ako sa surfing. Siguro five years pa,” she said.

    Valdez added: “Mararamdaman mo naman sa sarili mo. Yung mga critical moves dati na di ko nagagawa masyado, yung mga malalaking score na kailangan sa pocket ka gumagawa, ngayon, mas nagagawa ko na siya.”

    And besides, she said with a hint of pride in her voice, among her contemporaries in the sport, “Ako na lang yung natira. Lumalaban pa rin ako sa mga 19 year old, 20 year old.”

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    PHOTO: Michael Eijansantos
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