Manila, Philippines, March 14, 2022: Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will be crowned the 2021 Athlete of the Year at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Annual Awards night this evening, March 14, at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
Diaz won the country’s first Olympic gold medal ending a near century-long quest with her breakthrough performance in the women’s 55kg event at the Tokyo 2020 Games last summer.
“Hidilyn Diaz winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal was definitely the high point of what has truly been a memorable year for Philippine sports,” said PSA president Rey C. Lachica, sports editor of Tempo.
“The PSA was unanimous in its choice of Hidilyn as our Athlete of the Year for 2021.”
Her sensational triumph spurred the rest of the Filipino delegation as the country achieved its biggest medal haul in Olympic history, with boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial bagging two silvers and a bronze.
Diaz, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, highlighted her feat with two Olympic records – 127kg in clean and jerk and 224kg in total lift – on her way to beating world record holder and favourite Liao Qiuyun of China in a thrilling duel for gold.
It will be the third Athlete of the Year honour to be bestowed by the PSA on Diaz over the last six years.
She won the first award in 2016 when she bagged a silver medal at Rio de Janeiro, ending the country’s 20-year medal drought in the Olympic Games.
Two years later, she shared the same honour with skateboarder Margielyn Didal and the golfing trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Padanganan and Lois Kaye Go when they accounted for the four gold medals the country won in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.