MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina golfer Yuka Saso vows to continue to bring glory to the country and provide inspiration to other athletes after she was officially named the Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, Sunday.
"Malaking karangalan po ito sa akin at sa pamilya ko," Saso said of the award.
"Patuloy po akong magbibigay ng karangalan sa ating bansa," the 19-year-old vowed to cap her brief acceptance speech.
This was already Saso's second Athlete of the Year award in three years. She received the same award from the PSA in 2018, sharing it with fellow golfers Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarder Margielyn Didal. The five Filipina athletes all won gold in that year's Asian Games in Jakarta
"Maraming salamat po sa Philippine Sportswriters Association sa pagbigay at pagkilala sa akin bilang Athlete of the Year," she added.
Saso campaigns in the Japan LPGA Tour and is looking to secure a spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. She is ranked 22nd in the Olympic Golf Rankings as of this week.
Also receiving their awards in the virtual program were: Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino (President's Award); PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (Executive of the Year); and the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (National Sports Association of the Year).
Recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award meanwhile, were the late ambassador and basketball godfather Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, former PBA commissioner and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Renauld "Sonny" Barrios, and former Project Gintong Alay director Jose Romasanta.
PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez was the special guest speaker of the first-ever virtual awards night in PSA history.
In his brief but meaningful speech, Ramirez lauded the Filipino athletes for "keeping their stars shine even brighter in these dark times."
"The future is so uncertain, the past is out of reach, and so I wish that we all savor the present where we all found ourselves now with family, friends, celebrating our heroes in sports," said the country's top government sports official.
Boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao was also in the honor roll as the Chooks-to-Go "Manok ng Bayan" Fan Favorite, together with the trio of Alex Eala, Johnriel Casimero, and Pedro Taduran, who were accorded with Major Awards, respectively.
A total of 20 personalities and entities were handed out with citations, while a special recognition was given to athletes who served as front liners in this time of the pandemic.
Athletes, officials, and friends of the sportswriting fraternity who passed away last year were honored with a posthumous recognition.