MANILA, Philippines – One of the most inspiring athletes in last year's Southeast Asian Games will be recognized with a special honor in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Annual Awards Night at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel this weekend.
Gymnast Daniela dela Pisa, who won a gold medal in the SEA Games, joins tennis phenom Alex Eala, young chess whiz Daniel Quizon, and ace swimmer Miguel Barreto as the MILO Junior Athletes of the Year.
They will receive their citations during the gala night on March 6.
Dela Pisa, 16, stepped out of the shadow of world champion Carlos Yulo when she won a gold medal in the hoop final of the women's rhythmic gymnastics competition. It was the only gold produced by Filipino gymnasts outside of the two won by Yulo in the floor exercises and artistic all-around.
The Cebuana native did the feat after overcoming ovarian cancer at the age of four. Through chemotherapy and the support of her family, she continued pursuing the sport to become the bemedalled athlete that she is today.
Dela Pisa, whose mother Darlene is a former gymnast, also won bronze medals in the rhythmic ball and clubs.
The 14-year-old Eala, for her part, continues to rise in the world rankings. She finished 2019 at No. 9 after making her junior Grand Slam debut in the US Open. She also leads the list of Tony Siddayao awardees in the vent.
Quizon, 14, now has an International Master title after capturing the gold in the Under-16 standard competition of the Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championships in Bangkok. He was also the highest-ranking Filipino in the blitz event of the Asian Continental Chess Championship in China. That competition saw him topple three grandmasters in Wan Yunquo and Liu Yan of China and Venkataraman Karthik of India.
Quizon is currently the youngest in the Top 20 Filipino chess players today.
Barreto, meanwhile, won the most medals in last year's Palarong Pambansa, with seven golds. He anchored National Capital Region's dominance inside the pool.
The 16-year-old also shattered the records in the boys' 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly.
At the end of the year, Barreto earned a spot in the Philippine national team that competed in the 30th SEA Games, eventually advancing in the men's 400-meter freestyle.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).