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Pinay athletes to be honored

PHILIPPINE Sports commissioner Bong Coo (second from left) announces the first-ever staging of the All-Women Sports Awards set this month. She is joined by POC Athletes Commission representative Nikko Huelgas (left), Judith Staples of the Masters Athletics and Stephen Fernandez of the Philippine Olympians Association. (PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEY SANCHEZ MENDOZA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE)

Filipina athletes and sports personalities who brought honor to the country will take center stage in the inaugural All-Women Sports Awards set on 20 March at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

A pet project of Philippine Sports commissioner Bong Coo, the event aims to recognize the achievements of women athletes, coaches, executives, and other personnel.

“I have been an athlete for so many years and I haven’t experienced having an award exclusive for women. Its always sports award in general, so I thought it’s about time,” the legendary Filipina bowler and Hall of Famer said as she graced the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Three members of the selection panel accompanied Coo in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, PLDT/Smart, and the 24/7 sports app in the country ArenaPlus, namely taekwondo legend Stephen Fernandez of the Philippine Olympians Association, two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas of the POC Athletes Commission, and Judith Staples of the Masters Athletics and private sector.

So far, a total of 300 nominees have been submitted to the committee by their respective national sports associations based on what they’ve attained in sports year 2023, although past achievements and accomplishments have also been considered by the group.

“We prioritized the 2023 performances of our athletes but we do not negate their performance in the past years, although we did give more weight to their 2023 performances,” Staples said.

According to Coo, 136 awardees — and counting — have already been selected by the committee to comprise the Athlete of the Year, Flame Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards that cover elite athletes, para athletes, and Masters, as well as major awards and citations.

“There were some tough decisions, very tough competitions and we have a lot of top level Filipina athletes. But with the help of the NSAs and several recommendations, we were able to streamline and able to decide which one fits the best,” Huelgas said.

Instead of plaques and trophies, a specially-crafted ring will be given to all awardees, while Senator Pia Cayetano donated P100,000 to the recipient of the Athlete of the Year.

Fernandez added the committee will meet again next week to finalize the list of awardees, which the group would rather not disclose at the moment.

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