MANILA -- Hidilyn Diaz’s dream became reality on Valentine’s eve.
The petite 25-year-old pride of Zamboanga, who lifted Philippine sports on her broad shoulders by winning a silver medal in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, was formally bestowed the coveted title Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) during its annual awards night on Monday at the Le Pavillon in Pasay City.
Diaz was personally presented her trophy by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuango, and PSA president Riera Mallari of The Standard during the formal gathering recognizing the top sports achievers of the year passed.
In her short acceptance speech, the bubbly weightlifter admitted how she yearned to be named Athlete of the Year by the country’s oldest media organization as she recalled setting her goal during last year’s staging of the formal event where she was a recipient of a citation award.
“Last year, nandito ako sa PSA, may award din ako,” Diaz, radiant in her back-less, long green gown, related. “Sabi ko next year (2017), ako ang maging Athlete of the Year."
“Di ba, walang imposible kay God,” she added, drawing cheers and applause from the audience. “Talagang nasa tiyaga at disiplina. Malaking bagay po ito para sa akin.”
Diaz went on and expressed her gratitude to the POC, PSC, PSA, PWA, friends, teammates, family, and God for challenging and supporting her in realizing her dream.
“Pangarap ko lang ito na matanggap ang award na ito, “ she said. “Pero kanina hawak-hawak ko (na). Ginalingan ko, kaya nakuha ko ang goal ko.”
Meanwhile, Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Philip Ella Juico was named as the Executive of the Year, and racer Milo Rivera was the recipient of the President’s Award.
“Thank you PSA for inspiring us (athletes), thank you for motivating us, thank you for provoking us to give our best, and thank you for honoring us, lalo na sa akin, you have been very generous to me,” said Torre when it was his turn to address the sports community..
It was a double celebration for Juico, the former PSC chairman, as the National Sports Association of the Year was handed to the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, of which he is currently the president.
“We just received two awards. I think we must be doing something right,” Juico stressed during the affair.
In a touching moment, a video tribute and posthumous award were extended to departed sports legends Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga, Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, and Filomeno ‘Boy’ Codinera, represented by their respective children, Chito Loyzaga, Ebing Dalupan, and Jerry Codinera.
Meanwhile, named as Stars of the Night were kiddies Ancilla Mari Manzano of gymnastics and karter Khazart William Khaz Romoff.
This article originally appeared on the ABS-CBN Sports website.