Pro golfer Yuka Saso vowed to continue providing inspiration to Philippine sports despite the mounting challenges the country faces in its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Patuloy po akong magbibigay ng karangalan sa ating bansa. Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino (I will continue to give honor to our country. Long live the Filipino athlete),” said the 19-year-old Saso in her short acceptance speech from Japan after being recognized as the Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) during its San Miguel Corp. (SMC)-PSA Awards Night at TV5 Media Center. Saso considered her second Athlete of the Year Award in the last three years as a big honor to her career and family. She received the same from the country’s oldest media organization headed by its president and Manila Bulletin sports editor Tito Talao in 2018, which she shared with fellow golfers Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go, along with Olympic silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz. “Thank you Philippine Sportswriters Association for making me your Athlete of the Year for the second time,” she added.
Saso currently campaigns in the rich Japan LPGA Tour and is eyeing to clinch a spot in the coming Tokyo Olympics being ranked No. 44 in the world.
Also receiving a piece of the limelight in the program presented by SMC and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Cignal TV were Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino as recipient of the President’s Award, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial, who was hailed as Executive of the Year, and the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, which was named National Sports Association of the Year, and whose award was accepted by its president Ricky Vargas. Recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award meanwhile, were the late Ambassador and basketball godfather Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, former PBA commissioner and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios, and former Project Gintong Alay director Jose Romasanta.
PSC chair William “Butch” Ramirez was the special guest speaker of the first-ever virtual awards night in PSA history hosted by Gretchen Ho and Paolo del Rosario, with 1Pacman Partylist, Chooks-to-Go and Rain or Shine as major backers. In his brief but meaningful speech, Ramirez lauded the Filipino athletes for “keeping their stars shining even brighter in these dark times.”