CEBU, Philippines – Three sporting heroes. Three different tales. All flashing glory and honor for the flag and country. That’s the main story we would like to trumpet as we look back at what had been another colorful yet challenging times for Philippine sports.

And as we scan each athlete, the names of lifter Hidilyn Diaz, boxer Manny Pacquiao and marathoner Mary Joy Tabal shone the best and the brightest among all stars, with the highly revered trio creating enormous impact for their stirring exploits on the international stage that reverberated all throughout the archipelago.

Diaz came out as the valedictorian of our outstanding achievers the past year.

Why not? Competing in a sport that beforehand we weren’t given even the slightest to win a medal, the diminutive weighlifter from Zamboanga City almost grabbed that elusive Olympic gold medal that slipped out of Phl’s hands for three quarters of a century already.

Still, Diaz became a household name for her countrymen after she snatched silver medal in women’s 53kg weightlifting category at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil last August.

Diaz thus ended the country’s 20-year medal drought in the prestigious sporting extravaganza that happens only once every four years. It was also Phl’s first non-boxing medal since 1936. More importantly, she enshrined herself as the first Pinay silver medallist in the Oympics.

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