Asian sprint champion Lydia de Vega, and bowling legends Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno and Olivia "Bong" Coo led 10 athletes inducted into the Philippine sports hall of fame in ceremonies held in Manila on Thursday night.
De Vega, heralded as the continent's fastest woman in the 1980s, recalled the hard road it took to become a winner.
“Hindi madali ang maging atleta, hindi madali na magwagi,” she said.
“Hindi madali ang gawin lahat ng mga bagay na magiging dahilan para mapabilang ka sa mga katangitanging atleta na pararangalan ng ganito. Masaya ako na mapabilang sa hall of fame. Salamat ako ay inyong napili.”
De Vega, based in Singapore, said she made sure to come home and receive the award personally as she considers being member of the hall one of the best awards she has received as an athlete.
Coo, who has won the most medals for the Philippines in Asian Games history, thanked her family who introduced her to the sport during a “trying time in her life.”
“All great athletes go through adversity at one point in their lives before they succeed. Mine came when my siblings encouraged me to play bowling to forget my separation with my husband,” said Coo.
Nepomuceno, a 4-time bowling world champion, said “it is an honor to be recognized in your own country by your own people.”
The three sports icons join the list of recipients, which has grown to 37 since its first induction ceremony in 2010.
Also present and inducted Thursday night was boxing champ Erbito Salavarria, who held both WBC and WBA flyweight belts during his prime.
Posthumously inducted were Filomeno Codiñera (baseball/softball), Josephine dela Vina (athletics), Loreto Carbonell (basketball), Benjamin Arda (golf), Lita dela Rosa (bowling) and Sen. Ambrosio Padilla (basketball).
Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez congratulated all the awardees and extolled the virtues of hard work and dedication in his speech emphasizing “it is love for sport and country that makes someone a legend.”
The Philippine Sports Hall of Fame was created by virtue of Republic Act 8757 through the efforts of representatives from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), Games and Amusements Board (GAB), National Sports Associations (NSAs) and two other private groups.
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