Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz with former world bowling champion Bong Coo. (File photo)

MANILA – Drawing strength from another banner year, the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas will be presented with a special honor during the San Miguel Corporation-Philippine Sportswriters Association (SMC-PSA) Annual Awards Night.

The federation once more is going to be the recipient of the National Sports Association (NSA) of the Year award from the country’s oldest media organization following its successful campaigns in the Southeast Asian region and other international competitions anchored by Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

The 32-year-old Diaz stamped her class last October in the 88th IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Bogota, Colombia with a three-gold sweep of the women’s 55kg class, in a fitting follow-up to last year’s historic milestone when she gave the country its ever Olympic gold during the Tokyo Games.

For her back-to-back golden triumphs, the pride of Zamboanga City will be the recipient of the PSA Athlete of the Year award for the second straight time.

Can the SWP be far behind?

In the wake of Diaz’s Olympic feat, the federation was likewise named NSA of the Year in 2021 along with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), a special award it will receive by its lonesome in the March 6 gala night at the grand ballroom of the Diamond Hotel.

The PSA awards night is presented by the Philippine Sports Commission and Cignal TV, with able support from the Philippine Olympic Committee, Mayor Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino, MILO, Smart, MVP Sports Foundation, Rain or Shine, 1Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero, Philippine Basketball Association, OKBet, ICTSI, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The weightlifting association led by president Monico Puentevella, however, is more than just Diaz.

Although Diaz successfully retained her gold in the women’s 55kg in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, Vanessa Sarno began to make her presence felt as a force to reckon in the sport.

The 18-year-old lass blew the competition away in the SEA Games with a dominant victory in the women’s 71kg event, where she set new records of 104kg in the snatch, 135kg in the clean and jerk, and 239kg total lift.

Diaz and Sarno accounted for the two gold medals the country bagged in the biennial meet.

Two months later in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sarno anchored the Philippine team’s campaign in the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships.

The Bohol native scored another sweep of the junior women’s 71kg class by topping the snatch (100kg), clean and jerk (130kg), and total lift (230kg) to spearhead the 15 golds won by the Filipino lifters. (PNA)