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Loyzaga, Mumar, Sulaiman, De Vega to be feted by PSA


CARLOS Loyzaga, Lauro Mumar, Lydia De Vega-Mercado and Mona Sulaiman. Four giant names in Philippine sports considered legends in their own rights.

Together for one more time, they will share the same stage on Jan. 13 as the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) enshrine them to the Hall of Fame for their outstanding achievements during their time.

The four are among the top achievers to be honored by the country�s oldest media organization in its Annual Awards Night at the Manila Pavilion next week.

Golf star Jennifer Rosales and ring sensation Manny Pacquiao, named Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year, respectively, lead the short honor roll list compiled by the sportswriting fraternity for the compact, 90-minute affair sponsored by Red Bull, Agfa Colors, Photokina, PAGCOR, San Miguel Beer, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Accel and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza. NBN-4 is the official carrying station.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose �Peping� Cojuangco has been invited as guest of honor in the program that starts at 7:30 p.m.

Loyzaga, Mumar, De Vega-Mercado and Sulaiman are the latest batch of former greats to be inducted by the PSA to the Hall of Fame, an award the body institutionalized beginning last year.

Golf�s living legends Celestino Tugot and Ben Arda were the first athletes elevated to the Hall of Fame.

Long before the rise of pampered, millionaire basketball players, Loyzaga and Mumar were already there, whose brilliant partnership helped the Philippines become a cage power in both Asia and the world.

The two were teammates in the RP team that won the basketball golds in the 1951 (New Delhi) and 1954 (Manila) Asian Games.

But perhaps their greatest moments together came in 1954 when they steered the country to a third place finish in the World Basketball Championship in Rio de Janeiro, the highest achieved by any Asian country in the meet that remains unsurpassed until now. Mumar, nicknamed �The Fox� for his wily plays, was team captain of that legendary team that included Francisco Rabat, Mariano Tolentino, Benjamin Francisco, among others.

It was Caloy, dubbed the �Big Difference,� however, who really shone between the two.

Considered as the greatest cage player the country ever produced, Loyzaga, now 73, was chosen as member of the Mythical Five during that memorable 1954 World Championship stint.

He was team captain of the RP squad that won four straight all Asian Games basketball golds from 1951 to 1962. Likewise, he led the team to back-to-back ABC championships in 1960 and 63 and as coach of the 1967 Filipino team that won the title.

A two-time Olympian, Loyzaga was at the helm of the country�s best showing in the quadrennial meet, a seventh place finish in the 1956 Melbourne Games.

Over at the track, De Vega was the undisputed darling of the crowd, her colorful yet controversial career the subject of stories in major sports pages during her time.

Long-legged with a pony tailed hair, the charming lass from Meycauyan, Bulacan won numerous races in both the ASEAN and Asian levels during her reign as the country�s top runner.

Diay also was a two-time Olympian, having carried the country�s colors in the 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1988 (Seoul) Olympics.

But what really defined her career as one of the greatest Filipino athletes of all-time was her claim as Asia�s fastest woman, a feat she established by winning back-to-back the century dash gold during the 1982 (New Delhi) and 1986 (Seoul) Asian Games.

Named PSA Athlete of the Year in 1981, 86 and 87, the 40-year-old de Vega has branched out to other fields since hanging her sneakers. She was once a Councilor in Meycauyan and serves as Sports Consultant to the Office of the Bulacan Governor.

Sulaiman distinguished herself as the fastest woman in Asia in the early 60s when she won three gold medals in the 1962 Asiad in Jakarta, Indonesia.

She rewrote the records in winning the 100 meter run, added the 200 meter title and later on, combined forces with Inocencia Solis, Aida Molinos and Francisca Sanopal in winning the women�s 4x100 meter race. Sulaiman also bagged a bronze in the shotput during that same Asiad.

Now connected with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Sulaiman made it to the Olympics in 1960 (Rome) and 1964 (Tokyo).

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