MANILA, Philippines – Back then, Hidilyn Diaz only dreamed of attending the Philippine Sportswriters Association Awards Night.
Now, she is a three-time Athlete of the Year awardee.
Diaz on Monday, March 14, received the honor she earned with no contest after becoming the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist when she reigned in the Tokyo Games last year.
“Nakikita ko sila ate (long jumper) Marestella Torres na nandito. Sabi ko gusto ko rin pumunta dito,” Diaz said in her acceptance speech. “Little did I know na pangatlo ko ngayon. Talagang walang imposible, no?“
(I always saw the likes of Marestella Torres being here. I told myself I also wanted to come here. Little did I know that I will win three Athlete of the Year awards. Nothing really is impossible, right?)
The Zamboangueña weightlifter first won the award in 2017 after ending the Philippines’ 20-year Olympic medal drought when she captured silver in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Diaz then shared the coveted honors with skateboarder Margielyn Didal and golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye 2019 as they delivered all of the Philippines’ four gold medals in 2018 Asian Games.
“Sabi nila dati, ang taas kong mangarap. Bakit hindi? Isa kaya sa pinakamagandang bagay at libreng gawin ang mangarap,” Diaz said.
(They once said I dreamed too high. Why not? It’s free to dream and one of the best things to do.)
It was a star-studded honor list as world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and golf titlist Yuka Saso bagged the President’s Award.
Yulo nailed his second gold medal in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships last year by ruling the vault with a silver in the parallel bars to boot, while Saso topped the US Women’s Open.
Meanwhile, Olympic medal-winning boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Eumir Marcial, pole vault star EJ Obiena, reigning US Open Pool titleholder Carlo Biado, rising tennis star Alex Eala, and champion boxers Jerwin Ancajas, Nonito Donaire, and Johnriel Casimero claimed the major awards.
To pay tribute to their massive contributions to Philippine basketball, PBA legends Ramon Fernandez and Robert Jaworski Sr. were named co-winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other awardees included Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino for Executive of the Year and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez for Excellence in Leadership. – Rappler.com