As Lydia de Vega-Mercado, one of the best athletes the Philippines has ever produced, if not the best, completed her final lap, a gloomy mood permeated the nation’s sports.
The former Asia sprint queen lost her battle with breast cancer on Wednesday after a four-year fight. She was 57. Stephanie de Koenigswarter, the daughter of de Vega-Mercado, posted about it on social media.
De Koenigswarter posted: “On behalf of our family, it is with profound sorrow that I announce the passing of my mother, Lydia de Vega, at this time, August 10, 2022, in the Makati Medical Center.”
“She put up a great fight and is finally at rest.”
After her daughter, Stephanie de Koenigswarter, called to tell that the formerly fastest runner in Asia was in critical condition and needed assistance last month, de Vega-Mercado got massive support before she died.
But the shocking news arrived on this gloomy, silent night. Death simply knocked.
Terry Capistrano, president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), sent his sympathies to the de Vega-Mercado family on behalf of the association.
“The great Lydia de Vega’s family has our sincere sympathies and, our prayers, on behalf of the men and women of the PATAFA. Her spirit will continue in our hearts, but we lost one of our best and one of our own,” Capistrano added.
Lydia de Vega’s Career
The legendary sprinter known as “Diay” in her peak dominated not only Southeast Asia but the whole Asian continent.
At the SEA Games, De Vega won the gold medal in the 100 meters (1987, 1991, and 1993).
In addition, she won the 200-meter competition in 1981, 1983, 1987, and 1993. In 1983 and 1987, she won gold in the 100 and 200 meters at the Asian Athletics Championships in both events.
She also competed in the Summer Olympics twice, representing the Philippines in Seoul in 1988 and Los Angeles in 1984.
De Vega paused competing in sports from 1989 to 1991. She married to Paul Mercado, a former engineer at Meralco and an entrepreneur engaged in fish pond business and earned a degree during this time.
She competed at the Asian Athletics Championships in 1991, coming in seventh place, which was a respectable result.
After competing in the track and field competition of the 1994 Manila-Fujian Games, which took place in October, the sprinter decided to retire.
She triumphed in the 100-meter race. At that time, she declared that she will not be participating in the forthcoming Philippine National Games.
Lydia de Vega-Mercado’s Life after her retirement in Athlete
De Vega served her home in Bulacan province’s Meycauayan town as a councilor. She was named a liaison person for the Philippine Sports Commission by the Alliance of Coaches and Athletes of the Philippines in early 2005.
De Vega relocated to Singapore in December 2005 after obtaining three job offers from private schools there to manage athletics. In Singapore, she worked as an athletic coach.
Her most recent appearance was during the Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony in the Philippines, when she served as one of the flag bearers.