MANILA, Philippines – Amid the distractions and doubts surrounding the country's hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Filipino athletes remained poised and kept their focus on the task at hand.
Their drive and determination resulted in some of the most inspiring moments in Philippine sports last year.
In record fashion, the 1,115 Philippine bets delivered a total of 149 gold medals, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes from the 56 sports played in the 11-day competitions, held in three major clusters within Luzon.
The numbers were the highest ever tallied by the country since it began competing in the SEA Games in 1977, and more than enough for the Philippines to clinch the overall championship for just the second time in 42 years.
For that momentous feat in a December to remember, Team Philippines will be bestowed with the 2019 Athlete of the Year award in the upcoming Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Annual Awards Night.
The traditional gala, honoring the top sports heroes of the year, will take place on March 6 at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.
This marks the second time that the PSA will recognize Team Philippines as its Athlete of the Year awardee. The organization did the same in 2005, when the Filipinos also won the overall title in the biennial meet on home soil.
Among the prominent gold medalists for Team Philippines are Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and Asian Games golden girls Margielyn Didal, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go. Also winning golds are world champions Carlos Yulo and Nesthy Petecio, and Olympic-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
"The choice of Team Philippines as the 2019 PSA Athlete of the Year has never been as unanimous," said PSA president Tito Talao of the Manila Bulletin.
"The least the PSA can do to honor the men and women who brought singular distinction to the country during the 30th SEA Games is to give them one resounding, united vote," he added.
The Athlete of the Year is the highest honor solely given by the PSA which was first established in 1949 and composed of editors and sportswriters from the different broadsheets, tabloids, and sports websites.
The country sportswriting fraternity will be handing out trophies for the President's Award, Executive of the Year, and the National Sports Association (NSA) of the Year.
There are also awards for Ms. Basketball, Mr. Volleyball, Ms. Golf, Mr. Football, and Coach of the Year.
There will also be recipients of Major Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, Tony Siddayao Awards, MILO Junior Athletes Award, and citations to be led by the SEA Games gold medal winners.
Meanwhile, sports personalities who passed away last year will also be accorded with a posthumous recognition.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.