MARGIELYN Didal may not have won in her Olympic debut, but she won hearts all over the world with her positive vibes.
In fact, she became viral in Brazil with her social media antics with their country’s skateboarding rep, Rayssa Leal. Tweets about their newfound friendship zoomed to the top of the South American country’s charts, with one netizen saying, “Her charisma, sympathy and joy won us over.”
But Didal says that what she did is really part of the whole skate culture.
“That's how skateboarding is. It doesn't matter what your nation or culture or what language you speak is. We have the same passion. You're surrounded by the people who have that same passion,” said Didal to SPIN Life in a press conference arranged by Red Bull.
She added, “Hindi siya parang, he or she is from another country, and we're competing against each other at ayaw kong makipag-usap.”
Of course, there is still competitiveness. But as a rule, Didal explained, “Usually tsini-cheer up and nagwi-wish kami na mabuo yung trick at walang masaktan.”
Didal also attributed her ‘kulit’, as she called it, to how she was raised.
“Nagmana ako sa papa ko na sobrang kulit,” she said. Her viral moments with Leal are just like how she acts at home. “I think that shows kung paano kami ng family ko. Kukulitan lang. Skateboarding is also like a family.”
Strong skate culture starts with proper skate parks, says Margielyn Didal
Leal, who eventually went on to win silver in the street skating category, comes from a country with a strong background in skate, with public skate parks being set up in the country as far back as the ‘70s.
This, as Margielyn's coach Dani Bautista explained, explains how both the gold and silver medalists in skate were 13-year-olds. The presence of skate parks is well entrenched in the countries, helping produce a strong skate culture and nurture young, phenom rippers such as Leal and first placer Momiji Nishiya of Japan.
This all ties back to Didal's plea for more skate parks in the Philippines: to nurture a new generation of skaters who will make the sport even bigger.
“I hope mas lalong lumaki ang skate scene, and not just about the skate scene, but also the proper facilities everywhere in the Philippines,” she said.
If there’s any project that would help the grassroots, Didal declared, count her in.
“Kung may project man, I wanna be able to help.”
Michael Eijansantos is SPIN.ph’s surfing correspondent and founder of My Life On Board.