MANILA, Philippines – There were no more deserving choice than Hidilyn Diaz.
Diaz will be crowned the 2021 Athlete of the Year during the San Miguel Corporation-Philippine Sportswriters Association Annual Awards Night on March 14 at the Diamond Hotel as she delivered the country its first Olympic gold medal.
The Zamboangueña weightlifter ended the Philippines’ near century-long quest for an Olympic gold following her breakthrough performance in the women’s 55kg event of the Tokyo Games last July.
Her sensational triumph spurred the rest of the Filipino delegation as the country achieved its biggest medal haul in Olympic history, with boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial bagging two silvers and one bronze.
“Hidilyn Diaz winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal was definitely the high point of what had been a truly memorable year for Philippine sports,” said PSA president Rey C. Lachica, sports editor of Tempo.
“The PSA was unanimous in its choice of Hidilyn as our Athlete of the Year for 2021.”
Diaz highlighted her feat with two Olympic records – 127kg in clean and jerk and 224kg in total lift – on her way to beating world record holder and heavy favorite Liao Qiuyun of China in a thrilling duel for the gold.
She also became just the second Filipino athlete to win multiple Olympic medals after late swimming great Teofilo Yldefonso, who captured two bronzes.
It will be the third Athlete of the Year honor to be bestowed by the country’s oldest media organization to Diaz over the last six years.
She first won the award in 2016 when she bagged a silver in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, ending the Philippines’ 20-year medal drought in the quadrennial showpiece.
Two years later, she shared the same honor with skateboarder Margielyn Didal and the golfing trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go when they accounted for the four gold medals the country won in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Diaz leads the compact list of top achievers from last year who will be recognized during the affair that is backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, and Cignal TV.
The awards nights is presented by MILO, 1Pacman, Philippine Basketball Association, Rain or Shine, ICTSI, Chooks To Go, Smart, Philippine Racing Commission, and the MVP Sports Foundation. – Rappler.com
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