No solo top athlete plum for Yulo
There is no doubt Team Philippines, with its runaway overall victory in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games, deserves to be honored by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) as 2019 Athlete of the Year during the annual SMC-PSA Awards night on March 6 at Manila Hotel.
The Philippine campaign at home that produced a record 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals from 56 sports disputed in the 11-nation sportsfest rewarded the national bets a second Athlete of the Year accolade from the PSA since pulling off the country’s first SEA Games overall championship also at home in 2005.
But in the biggest irony of the SEA Games juggernaut, Carlos Yulo lost his claim as undisputed Athlete of the Year award, which seemed in the bag following his earlier victory in the floor exercise of the World Artistic Gymnastic Championship in Germany, which earned him a slot to this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Then for good measure, Yulo captured two golds and five silvers in a SEA Games performance no other Filipino bet matched.
The PSA has yet to decide on how to single out Yulo during the Awards night from the rest of the Filipino winners, many of whom were just lucky to be in a sport strange to their rivals.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and female boxer Nesty Petecio would have crowded Yulo for top athlete honors had the national team effort floundered in the SEA Games.
Obiena had also made it to the Tokyo Olympics by hurdling the qualifying standard, while Petecio captured the featherweight crown in the AIBA World Championship in Russia. They also won their respective SEA Games events.
No other Filipino athlete came close to matching the superb efforts of Yulo, Obiena and Petecio before the SEA Games campaign. INQ