The Philippine Sportswriters Association is set to give the Athletes of the Year award to swimmer Miguel Molina and boxer Nonito Donaire Jr.

23 Year old Molina won 5 golds in swimming at the recently held biennial event the South East Asian Games held last 2007. In the last SEAG Molina won 3 golds. For his feat of winning 5 golds Molina was given the “Best Male Athlete” award of the games. Donaires record on the other hand was 3-0 for 2007 with one fight being won by a first round TKO. It is said that those included in the running for this presitigious award were Boxer Manny Pacquiao, Asian/Japan Golf Tour Pro Frankie Minoza, Chess Grandmaster Wesley So and former Billiards Dual World Champion Ronnie Alcano.

The choice of both Molina and Donaire came to be as their journey in each chosen sport has basically been under the radar until their blip in the sports monitor started to gleam with their awards. Heads started turning to take a look and see who were these athletes making the country proud. PSA President Aldrin Cardona, writer for the Tribune was to have said “…in the end, it all boiled down between Nonito Donaire Jr. and Miguel Molina, whose daring exploits came at the unexpected time”. So there you have it bright shining blips and not just the same familiar faces.

For cycling it’s going to roadie Victor Espiritu. I was hoping it would go to Joey Barba for the Downhill Mountain Bike Category and Eboy Quiniones for Cross Country Mountain Bike Category. Both won the gold in last years SEAG. I have had the pleasure of watching these bikers compete in a couple of downhill competitions at the Grotto in Montalban one of them in March 25, 2001 in a downhill race called “The Downhill Eliminator”. I happened to be the race doctor/marshall and also one of the sponsors for the event. I still have the Vans Marshall sport shirt somewhere as Vans was also a sponsor.

I remember Eboy pedal his way up to the summit and starting grid when everyone else were pushing their downhills rigs. Eboy was using a GT hardtail, RS SID fork. He was pedaling up the race course bare footed on road specific Look pedals! He would garner 6th place in the expert class ahead of others who were on downhill rigs! I remember Joey Barba at that time as a quiet unassuming guy, as he tuned and prepped his bike, but when he took to the course he was very calculating, he wasn’t the type to go full speed ahead at every section and just mow everything in site. He was very fluid with an eye for the best/fastest line during that race. At last years SEAG, Barba defeated the favorite to win the race who happened to be a Thai rider. The Thai rider was a favorite to win the event as he had the home court advantage having been able to practice the course for quite sometime.

Barba and Quiniones are real people like us. I sometimes get to see Eboy along Kamuning, Kamias or Xavier Ville Ave in the early mornings as he rides to Antipolo with the Philippine Cycling Team as he is also a roadie racer I believe. These guys are journey men competitors. They are talented. Their budget is hardly comparable to high profile sports and they are not media darlings and with Barba, he competes in an event that is quite dangerous. To those watching the sports monitor they probably did not make a blip bright enough to make their heads turn. I believe they should have been at least considered for the PSA’s short list