A 2018 Asian Games gold medal didn't provide any long breaks for Margielyn Didal, whose continued pursuit of excellence pushed her to string together one win after another heading into the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The 20-year-old star skater joined more than 10 competitions before the regional meet and has met success at every turn, with 3 stellar finishes last month bolstering her SEAG preparations and her bid to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In California, Didal impressed by ruling Ladies' Day at The Berrics with a Best Trick award and by earning a first-place finish and Best Run award at the Exposure All-Women's Skateboarding Championships at Huntington Beach. A run in Brazil also yielded rewards as she scored a top-10 finish at the STU Open in Rio de Janeiro.
A month before these, a 5th place finish at the Street League Skateboarding (SLS) World Tour in Los Angeles established her standing as the highest-ranked Filipino skater and the 14th-best female skateboarder in the world according to the Olympic World Skateboarding Ranking.
"After Asian Games, I thought things were gonna be chill. But it got hectic and more busy, especially since the Olympics is up next year and the SEA Games are set to start," she shared with ESPN5.com. "But I skate always, every day. It's cool. That's life."
The skater said she owes it all to her improved health, which has apparently removed any mental limitations that might have existed before her career breakout. Now backed by Red Bull, Didal was able to undergo an "intense assessment" at the brand's High Performance Training Center in Santa Monica, California to address any lingering injuries.
Didal said she was also able to access therapy at Cardia Olympia, which helped her recover immediately from a minor injury she sustained in the last week of November.
"Before, it was a problem getting injured because it meant I really needed to rest for a while. It's a big change now. They'll cover me and hook me up with physical therapists. They support for me in healing from injuries," she said. "I'm used to tripping and getting hurt, but I feel healthy and confident heading into the SEA Games."
Skateboarding will make its debut in the Games and will be held from December 3 to 8 at the Tagaytay Oval and in Maragondon, Cavite. Seven nations will vie for eight medals in the men's and women's division of street, park, game of skate and downhill.
A gold medal is obviously in the conversation for Didal, tabbed a heavy favorite by many pundits, but she said she's brushing off the pressure and the expectations in order to set her sights on the bigger picture.
"I'm just gonna skate. I just wanna skate, no matter who the opponent is. It's not a problem whoever I'll skate against, really. It'm just going to focus on myself and on my conditioning. I'm also going to cherish the love and support, especially since it's an advantage that we're the host country," she grinned.
"We have a big chance. I'm also confident, but I'm not gonna promise a gold. As always, we're gonna try our best and we're also ready for that," Didal added. "I don't really think about being pressured about these stuff. I'll just enjoy it and go with the flow. Definitely just gonna cherish everything."