MANILA -- Two retired sports greats, who are champions in their own rights, will be the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement honor during the SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night at the Manila Hotel three weeks from now.
Former bowling World Cup titlist Olivia “Bong” Coo, along with cycling legend Paquito Rivas are the latest personalities to be given the recognition by the country’s sportswriting fraternity during the February 26 event presented by MILO, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and Cignal TV.
Notable figures who previously received the illustrious award include cage star Carlos Loyzaga, the “Maestro” Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan, Filomeno “Boy” Codinera, Carlos Padilla, Mauricio Martelino, Francisco Elizalde, the 1973 Philippine men’s basketball team, with Grandmaster Eugene Torre the last one to be accorded the honor in 2017.
Ironically, both Coo and Rivas made waves in Philippine sports in the same year in 1979.
Coo, 70, won the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup (formerly known as the International Masters and AMF Bowling World Cup) in Bangkok, Thailand as the country kept the women’s title won by the late Lita dela Rosa the previous year.
She would later team up with dela Rosa to win the doubles gold in the 1979 World Championships in Manila.
In the summer of the same year, Rivas, 73, became the toast of local cycling after winning the 1979 Tour behind his notable climbing prowess, a skill which made his peers consider him as the undisputed “Eagle of the Mountain” up to these days.
Rivas continued to be involved in local tour races even in retirement and now stands as race manager of the UCI-sanctioned Le Tour de Filipinas.
Coo is likewise still very much active in bowling as the current secretary general of the Philippine Bowling Federation.
A four-time world champion and five-time Asian Games gold medal winner – including topping the Singles, All-Events, and Masters in the 1978 edition in Bangkok – became the first Filipino athletes to be listed by the Guinness Book of World Records and one of the inaugural member to the International Bowling Hall of Fame, along with another Filipino bowling great in Paeng Nepomuceno.
Just last November, she, Nepomuceno and dela Rosa were inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame.
Coo was also PSA Athlete of the Year four times in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1986, an award the quintet of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go, and skateboarder Margielyn Didal will share together when the country’s oldest media organization pays tribute to the best of Philippine sports in 2018.