JAKARTA -- Chris Tiu said it was the closest he would get to a gold medal in the Asian Games.
The basketball star had managed to get a selfie with skateboarder Margielyn Didal in the elevator of their building in the Athletes’ Village, and Tiu would sing praises of the teenager in an Instagram post.
“Nineteen years old pa lang and gold medalist na,” wrote Tiu of Didal, who won the Philippines’ fourth gold medal of the 2018 Asiad. “You certainly inspired more young Pinoys and Pinays to get into sports, and believe that impossible is nothing.
“Salamat sa elevator selfie,” he added.
Tiu was not the only Filipino athlete to have their pictures taken with the skateboarding sensation. Alyssa Valdez and members of the Philippine women’s volleyball team also asked for selfies with Didal.
That she would become an “idol” to her fellow Filipino athletes was unthinkable for Didal, who nevertheless played the whole thing off as a joke.
“Ang kapal ng mukha ko eh,” she said, laughing. “Pinabayad ko pa sila.”
“Sobrang hindi po ako makapaniwala,” Didal would later admit. “Pinapanood ko lang sila dati sa TV, naging fan lang. Tapos lahat sila, nagpapa-picture sa akin.”
“Pinagbayad ko po sila,” she joked again.
The last week has been a whirlwind for Didal, who lived up to expectations by delivering a gold medal in skateboarding in Palembang, then returned to a hero’s welcome to the Athletes’ Village in Jakarta. She capped her maiden Asiad stint by carrying the Philippine flag to the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium for the closing ceremonies on a rainy Sunday night.
Didal is now headed back to the Philippines, where she hopes to keep raising the profile of skateboarding -- a sport that is included in the program of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Mayroong (susunod sa akin),” she guaranteed. “Especially kung susuportahan at gagawa ng maraming skate park, skate clinic, at mag-hunting tayo sa iba’t ibang lugar ng talent.”
“Ang daming talent sa Cebu, sa mga provinces. Kulang lang talaga sa support,” she said.
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