SKATEBOARDER Margielyn Arda Didal formally became the 10th Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games next month, with golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe poised to join the exalted ranks.
Didal was in the World Skate’s official list of 20 athletes released late Wednesday set to see action in the women’s street skate event in the sport making its Olympic debut in the Japanese capital on July 25 to 26 for the street event and Aug. 4 to 5 for the park event at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.
The list was based on the World Skate Olympic qualifying rankings plus the results of the recent Street Skateboarding World Championships at the Foro Italico Sports Complex in Rome, Italy.
The top 16 in the world ratings, plus the gold, silver and bronze medalists in the worlds, earned outright Olympic berths, with one slot reserved for the host country, completing the 20-man cast in each of the street and park skateboarding events in the men’s and women’s divisions.
Didal, who was ranked No. 13 entering the world meet and went as far as the semis, where she placed 17th overall, emerged as 17th in the world ratings but moved up since a country is restricted to three athletes in the top 16. There were six Brazilians in the top 16 list.
She joins pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, weightlifter Hidylin Diaz, boxers Carlo Paalam, Eumir Felix Marcial, Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, rower Cris Nievarez and taekwondo’s Kurt Bryan Barbosa as the country’s representatives to the pandemic-delayed Olympic Games.
It was the latest milestone for Didal, 22, who first hogged the spotlight by bagging the women’s street skateboard gold during her 2018 Asian Games debut at the Jakabaring Skatepark in Palembang, Indonesia.
The Cebuana sprite, who learned the sport at a Cebu City skatepark where her mother was an ambulant vendor, followed up that triumph with two more mints, sweeping the street and game skate events in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Set to join the distinguished group are newly-minted US Women’s Open champion Saso and Pagdanganan, whose trips to Tokyo were virtually confirmed in an article that was posted last Wednesday on the US LPGA website.
“With her maiden major championship victory at the US Women’s Open, Yuka Saso solidified herself as one of the top players in the world, easily moving inside the Rolex Rankings top-10 and securing her spot in the Olympics as the top Filipino player,” noted the LPGA Communications article.
“She (Saso) accepted LPGA Tour Membership following her win and will represent her home country as well as the LPGA Tour when she goes for gold in Tokyo alongside countrywoman and now fellow LPGA Tour rookie Bianca Pagdanganan,” added the piece.
Saso and Pagdanganan, who teamed up with Louise Kaye Go to sweeping the women’s team and individual gold in the 2018 Asian Games, were ranked No. 9 and No. 42, respectively, in the International Golf Federation Olympic qualifying rankings. The Olympic qualifying cut-off for women’s golf is on June 28, with the top 60 in the list eligible to play in Tokyo. (Bong Pedralvez, Malaya)