ATHLETE OF THE YEAR. Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz (2nd from left) will receive the Athlete of the Year award during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Annual Awards Night at the Diamond Hotel Manila on Monday (March 6, 2023). PSA, the oldest media organization in the country, will honor close to 100 awardees. (File photo)

MANILA – The best and brightest in Philippine sports last year will be honored during the San Miguel Corporation-Philippine Sportswriters Association (SMC-PSA) Annual Awards Night at the Diamond Hotel Manila grand ballroom on Monday.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz will lead the awardees as she was named Athlete of the Year for the second straight time by the oldest media organization in the Philippines headed by its president, Rey Lachica, sports editor of Tempo.

The Athlete of the Year award is the fourth in the last seven years for the 31-year-old Zamboanga City native, who earned the honor in 2016 after ending the country’s 20-year Olympic drought with a silver medal at the Rio De Janeiro Games.

Manny Pacquiao, Luisito Espinosa and Nonito Donaire Jr. (boxing), Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo (bowling), the late Lydia De Vega (athletics) and Efren “Bata” Reyes (billiards) were also named Athlete of the Year three or more times.

De Vega will be inducted into the PSA Hall of Fame in recognition of her astounding achievements in and out of the country.

De Vega's bosom buddy, Elma Muros-Posadas, the undisputed long jump queen of Philippine athletics, will get a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tennis player Alex Eala will be bestowed the PSA President’s Award while to be presented with the Major Awards are Carlos Yulo (gymnastics); EJ Obiena (athletics); Philippine women’s football team; Carlo Paalam (boxing); Meggie Ochoa and Kimberly Anne Custodio (jiu-jitsu); Junna Tsukii (karate); Rubilen Amit, Carlo Biado, and Johann Chua (pool); Vanessa Sarno (weightlifting); Jovelyn Gonzaga and Sisi Rondina (volleyball); Esports organization Blacklist International; and jockey Jessie Guce and champion horse Boss Emong.

Philippine Sports Commission chair Richard Bachmann and Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham Tolentino will grace the formal affair, along with former Project Gintong Alay director and Laoag City Mayor Michael Keon.

Aside from the Tony Siddayao Awards, PSA Special Awards and the Lifetime Award in sports journalism, the PSA will also recognize with citations the gold medal winners in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam.

Other individuals to be cited outside of the SEA Games gold medalists are Chezka Centeno, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Efren Bagamasbad, Ronald Lomotos, Philippine Navy Standard Insurance, Philippine pencak silat team, Letran Knights basketball team, Joyce Reboton, Dottie Ardina, Rianne Malixi, Kaizen dela Serna, Andrico Mahilum, Mark Julius Rodelas, and Sandi Abahan.

Entities receiving the same award are the Philippine National Volleyball Federation, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

To receive the Special Awards are Tolentino (Executive of the Year), Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (National Sports Association of the Year), Scottie Thompson (Mr. Basketball), Sarina Bolden (Ms. Football), and Diaz (Milo Champion of Grit and Glory).

The Tony Siddayao Awards for the Junior Athletes of the Year by Milo will go to William John Riley Go (karting), Aleia Aielle Aguilar (jiu-jitsu), Miguel Carlos (archery), Karl and Elaiza Yulo (gymnastics), Heleina Dominique So and Robert Dayanan Jr (karate), Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh (swimming), and the Philippine Junior chess team.

The Lifetime Award in Sports Journalism will be given to former editors Recah Trinidad, Ding Marcelo, Jun Engracia, Al. S Mendoza, Eddie Alinea and Percy Della, while late sports editors Joe S. Antonio and Ernesto Gonzales will be honored with the PSA Special award.

Della and Alinea were the first sportswriters of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in 1973, along with Ding Micua of PNA Dagupan.

Veteran sportscaster Sev Sarmenta and sports journalist and host Rizza Diaz will anchor the gala night. (PNA)