THE Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) will hand out its annual awards in special virtual awarding ceremonies this weekend.
Set to happen on Sunday, March 27, the awards, which has been modified to an online event to adapt to the prevailing conditions with the pandemic, fete sports personalities who stood out despite the trying times last year.
The ceremonies will be held virtually at the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong City.
Leading the awardees is golfer Yuka Saso, who is the PSA Athlete of the Year.
Ms. Saso performed well in her professional debut year in 2020 just as the sporting world was trying to grapple with the effects brought about by the pandemic.
The Asian Games double gold medalist won two straight titles in the rich Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 2020 and had a strong 13th place finish in the US Open in her first crack at a major LPGA championship later in the year.
It will be Ms. Saso’s second PSA Athlete of the Year award.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, meanwhile, leads athletes to be given citations for the excellence they showed in their respective fields.
The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist completed a three-gold sweep in the women’s 55 kg division of the Roma Weightlifting World Cup in Italy last year just before the pandemic to virtually assure her of a berth in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics this year.
Also to receive citations are Ms. Diaz’s co-weightlifter Vanessa Sarno, Olympic-bound Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno of boxing, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the skateboarding pair of Margielyn Didal and Motic Panugalinog, the track and field quartet of Kristina Knott, Natalie Uy, William Morrison, and Christine Hallasgo, and James Delos Santos of karate.
In the list as well are Sander Severino of chess, sambo’s Sydney Tancontian, cyclist George Oconer and the Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance cycling team, and the four major leagues that successfully held their respective seasons in a bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely: the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Philippine Football League (PFL), Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, and the National Basketball League (NBL).
A special citation, too, will be given to athlete-frontliners who are serving during this time of the pandemic.
Southeast Asian Games gold medal winners Nikko Huelgas and Claire Adorna of triathlon, Philippine men’s volleyball coach Dante Alinsunurin and players Jessie Lopez and Ranran Abadilla, UST Tigresses mentor Kungfu Reyes, and Philippine women’s national team member Jovelyn Gonzaga are some of the athlete-frontliners who are serving the country.
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is the National Sports Association of the Year for having four athletes qualifying for the Olympic Games, namely Mr. Marcial and Ms. Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam.
Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino, meanwhile, is the recipient of the President’s Award while Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner Willie Marcial will be honored with the Executive of the Year award.
Mr. Tolentino, in his capacity as congressman of the eighth district of Cavite, was instrumental in the inclusion of a P180-million item to the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act II” that benefited athletes and coaches belonging to the national team.
Mr. Marcial, for his part, is being honored for successfully leading the PBA restart last year under a “bubble” setup.
Sports pillars former Gintong Alay Project Director Joey Romasanta, ex-PBA Commissioner Sonny Barrios, and the late Ambassador and basketball godfather Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, while to be cited as major awardees are 2020 world boxing champions Johnriel Casimero and Pedro Taduran, along with young, world-ranked tennis player Alex Eala.
Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, is the fan favorite awardee.
The PSA Special Awards Night will be aired on March 28 over One Sports+ from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo