COUNT on Filipino athletes to deliver when the going gets tough.
Amid the distractions and doubts hovering over Team Philippines’ preparations and campaign for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the country’s athletes remained focused on the task at hand, resulting in one of the most inspiring moments in the history of Philippine sports.
In record fashion, the 1,115-strong Philippine bets delivered a total of 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 bronze medals in 56 sports disciplines disputed during the 11-day competition in three major clusters in Luzon.
The numbers were the highest ever tallied by the country since it began competing in the biennial meet in 1977, and more than enough to clinch the SEA Games overall championship just for the second time in 42 long 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 coming SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night.
The traditional gala honoring the top sports heroes and heroines is set on March 6 at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel and is presented by the Philippine Sports Commission, Milo, Cignal TV, and the Philippine Basketball Association.
This is the second time the country’s oldest media organization is recognizing the entire Team Philippines as its Athlete of the Year winner, the first one coming in 2005 when the Filipinos first won the overall title in the biennial meet also staged here.
Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and Asian Games golden girls Margielyn Didal, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go, recipients of the Athlete of the Year honor in 2018, are some of the prominent gold medalists for Team Philippines in the SEA Games, along with world champions Carlos Yulo and Nesthy Petecio, and Tokyo Olympic-bound pole vaulter Ernest John Obienna, among others.
“The choice of Team Philippines as 2019 PSA Athlete of the Year has never been as unanimous. And it was felt 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,” said PSA president Tito Talao of the Manila Bulletin.
The Athlete of the Year award is the highest honor given by the PSA that was first established in 1949 and composed of editors and sportswriters from different broadsheets, tabloids, and sports websites.
The country sportswriting fraternity will also award trophies for the President’s Award, Executive of the Year, and the National Sports Association 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.
Sports personalities who passed away last year will also be accorded with a posthumous recognition.