Lydia de Vega, Asia’s sprint queen in 1980s, passes away

Published August 10, 2022, 11:09 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

A pall of gloom descended upon Philippine sports as Lydia de Vega-Mercado, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, athletes that the country has produced, has run her final lap.

Lydia de Vega

The former Asian sprint queen succumbed to breast cancer Wednesday after a four-year fight with the dreaded disease. She was 57.

De Vega-Mercado’s daughter, Stephanie de Koenigswarter, announced it on social media.

“On behalf of our family, it is with absolute grief that I announce the death of my mother, Lydia de Vega this event, Aug. 10, 2022, at the Makati Medical Center,” de Koenigswarter posted.

“She fought a good fight and is now at peace.”

Before she passed away, de Vega-Mercado received an outpour of support after her daughter, Stephanie de Koenigswarter, made a call that the once fastest runner in Asia was in critical condition and needed help last month.

But on this sad, quiet night, the sad news came. Death just came knocking.

During her prime, the legend fondly called “Diay” was an unstoppable force in the sprints not just in Southeast Asian but the whole Asian region.

She was a two-time Asian Games gold medalist, four-time Asian champion and nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold winner.

She was also a two-time Olympian, having represented the country in the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president Terry Capistrano offered his condolences to de Vega-Mercado’s family on behalf of the association.

“On behalf of the men and women of the PATAFA, our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of the great Lydia de Vega. We lost one of our own, one of our best, but her spirit will live on in our hearts,” Capistrano said.

 
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