At only 22 years old, Margielyn Didal’s name is already etched in history. Her track record as a trailblazing Filipina skateboarder has brought immense pride to her country, and her latest stint at the Tokyo Olympics — where she impressively finished in seventh place in the women’s street skateboarding event — turned her into a crowd favorite.
It wasn’t just Didal’s significant finish that swooned spectators, however. Her belief that “skateboarding is all about having fun” radiated in her bright smile, goofy photobombs and uplifting energy, essentially making her the face of the sport she picked up as a 12-year-old in Cebu City. “There are no rules,” she explains to HYPEBEAST, “so you can do whatever you want and that’s what I love about it.”
The most important feature on my first NB Numeric shoe was to include the Philippine flag because it represents me as a Filipina, which I’m very proud of!
But while the sport itself had no rules, the city had many for skateboarding and the community that enjoyed it. The now-defunct Concave Park was one of the few private courses built for the sport but the hefty price tag of PHP50 to PHP150 was too expensive for a kid like Didal. The park ended up closing so, naturally, she and her friends took to the streets, buit brewed trouble for the group as they were often told off by police and security guards and. The athlete was even banned from a shopping mall for carrying a skateboard at one point, but the inconvenience led her to meeting industry icon and filmer Anthony Claravall, who now serves as her manager. “I met Anthony through Dani Bautista. Around that same time, I got an I.D. and passport and started traveling. Ant helped me go to a camp in the U.S. called Woodward Camp, where I was able to improve my street skills,” she explained. “I’m really lucky to have Anthony because I’ve learned a lot from him. Not just about skating, but also life lessons.”
We sat down with the Olympian to discuss skating with and designing her New Balance Numeric, her joyous attitude and mindset during competitions and how big women’s skateboarding could be in the future.
HYPEBEAST: When designing your New Balance Numeric 379, what was the most important feature you made sure to include?
Margie Didal: The most important feature on my first NB Numeric shoe was to include the Philippine flag because it represents me as a Filipina, which I’m very proud of!
What do you personally look out for when considering a fashionable and functional skate shoe?
For my fashion sense, I like to wear a shoe that is comfy and fits my outfit. For function, personally, it depends on my mood… Sometimes I like to wear bulky shoes, but sometimes also flat or vulcanized shoes.
Prior to the Olympics, you competed and won gold in the Asian and Southeast Asian Games. What was the biggest difference between competing in those two events?
The difference in skating between the Olympics and Asian and Southeast Asian Games is the course (skate park) because they’re massive. I was also skating with the best female skaters in the world so there was a lot of pressure skating at the Olympics. I just wanted to enjoy it because I was able to raise and introduce the Philippine flag at the Olympics through skating, and it’s a big achievement from a country that doesn’t have any public skateparks.
I think women’s skateboarding is only getting bigger and we’re going to see so much more of it that in the future, it will just feel normal.
Qualifying for the Olympics is an exciting moment in any athlete’s career. How did you celebrate that feat?
After I qualified for the Olympics, I was really hyped and excited. After all the qualifying events I decided to go home for a week to see my family and girlfriend because they are my source of inspiration, but then I had to travel again cause I had to train before the Olympics.
You were a crowd favorite during the Tokyo Olympics and everyone was just so charmed with how positive and supportive you were being despite the fact that it was a competition. How do you keep such a cheerful attitude during such a high-pressure event?
It’s just who I am. I’m the same way whether I’m skating in the streets or at a contest. It’s a bit more serious at a contest, but I try not to think about it. I just try my tricks. If they work out, I’m stoked, and if not, I’m still happy to support everybody I’m skating with regardless of how I’m skating.
What do you think the progress of women’s skateboarding will look like in the future?
I think women’s skateboarding is only getting bigger and we’re going to see so much more of it, that in the future, it will just feel normal.