JAKARTA—For Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas, skateboarding sensation Margielyn Didal was the obvious choice to carry the country’s flag in the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Asian Games here.
Vargas watched in Palembang as the 19-year-old Didal romped her way to the gold medal in women’s street skateboarding, the Philippines’ fourth gold of these Games.
He hailed the Cebuana as a “daredevil” in a sport he found to be “breathtaking.” It was the first time that Vargas had a skateboarding event and he picked the perfect time to do so.
Upon her return to the athletes’ village in Jakarta, Didal was an instant hit among her fellow Filipinos. Everyone from volleyball star Alyssa Valdez to basketball veteran Chris Tiu asked her for photos.
“Super happy ako na ako ’yung magre-raise ng Philippine flag through skateboarding at sa Asian Games, tapos naka-gold medal pa,” Didal beamed. “Proud ako sa sarili ko as a skater din.”
While Didal is sure to receive commendations upon her return to the Philippines — as her fellow Filipina gold medalists have done — she will also be honored in this city as the POC tabbed her as the country’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies on September 2.
There, the spotlight will shine once more on the young athlete who has thrust her sport in the headlines back home.
“Alam mo ’yung story ni Margie as an athlete, and her passion for being an athlete is a story that should be told,” Vargas told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“Kung pwede nga lang i-share sa lahat ng mga tao na maririnig, what kind of a real person she is, and how her passion for life is, and her passion to succeed, and how she followed her dreams.”
There are, of course, several athletes who have made the Philippines proud in these Games, but her story and historic achievement make Didal the hands-down choice for the job.
“She's really the person that should carry our flag. She's the epitome of a true Filipina that went for it, a true Filipino,” Vargas said.
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