Hidilyn Diaz honored as Athlete of the Year anew by PH Sportswriters Association

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2022 04:15 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2022 05:37 PM

Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz reacts after placing first in the women's 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. Vincenzo Pinto, AFP
Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz reacts after placing first in the women's 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. Vincenzo Pinto, AFP

MANILA - For the third time, Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will be celebrated as the country's Athlete of the Year during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Annual Awards Night on March 14.

Diaz ended the Philippines' long wait for Olympic glory that spanned almost a century, when she ruled the women's -55kg event in the Tokyo Summer Games last year.

It was the highlight of what would become the country's best-ever Olympic campaign. Boxing delivered three more medals, with Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam copping silvers, while Eumir Marcial bagged a bronze.

But it is Diaz who will get the prestigious prize after once again making history for the Philippines and lifting the country's spirits in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She leads a compact list of achievers that will be recognized at the grand ballroom of the Diamond Hotel. Backing the event are San Miguel Corporation, the Philippine Sports Commission, the Philippine Olympic Committee, and Cignal TV.

"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. The PSA was unanimous in its choice of Hidilyn as our Athlete of the Year for 2021," PSA president Rey C. Lachica revealed.

Diaz had won gold in record style, setting a new Olympic mark after lifting 127kg in the clean and jerk, as well as in the total lift after a combined lift of 224kg. She defeated Chinese rival and world record holder Liao Qiuyun in a dramatic finale for the gold.

Diaz becomes just the second Filipino athlete to win multiple Olympic medals after the late swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso (two bronze medals).

It also marks the third time that the PSA has bestowed Diaz with the Athlete of the Year award. She first won in 2016 after bagging a silver in the Rio Olympics, where she ended the Philippines' 20-year medal drought in the Summer Games.

Two years later, she shared the honor with the golfing trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go, as well as skateboarder Margielyn Didal after they all won gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Diaz joins track legend Lydia de Vega, former boxing world champion Luisito Espinosa, and iconic cue artist Efren "Bata" Reyes as three-time winners of the award.