Filipina weightlifter and Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz has added another plaque to her growing collection of accolades after being named Philippine Sportswriters Association’s Athlete of the Year for 2021. 

The 31-year-old took center stage once again on Monday (March 14) during PSA’s Awards Night to claim her third Athlete of the Year award. 

Her first was back in 2017 after she won silver in the 2016 Olympics and the second in 2019 wherein she was recognized for taking home one of the country’s four gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games. 

According to Diaz, she used to just dream about being a part of the prestigious award event. However, now she stands in the middle as its most-respected honoree. 

“Naaala ko noon pangarap ko lang na makapunta dito sa PSA Awards. Nakikita ko [dati] sina Ate Marestella Torres (long jumper and former PSA Athlete of the Year Awardee). Sabi ko gusto ko rin pumunta dito,” she shared during her acceptance speech. 

“Little did I know na pangatlo ko ngayon. Talagang walang imposible, no?” Diaz added. 

Photo from PSA’s Official Facebook Page

In her speech, Diaz also highlighted the importance of having dreams and aspirations, specifically for yourself. 

“Sabi nila dati napakataas kong mangarap. Bakit hindi? Isa kaya na magandang bagay na libreng gawin ang mangarap. Kaya kung ikaw at tayong lahat patuloy lang mangarap,” the Zamboangueña stressed.

Besides Diaz, the annual awards show also honored other top athletes from the country. 

World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and golfer Yuka Saso both won the President’s Award. 

Tokyo Olympics winning boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Eumir Marcial, world No. 5 pole vaulter EJ Obiena, reigning US Open Pool titleholder Carlo Biado, tennis wunderkind Alex Eala, and champion boxers Jerwin Ancajas, Nonito Donaire, and Johnriel Casimero were also honored with major awards. 

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Image credit: PSA’s Official Facebook Page