SENATOR Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has introduced a resolution to honor “Asia’s fastest woman,” track and field legend and Filipino sports icon Lydia De Vega-Mercado who succumbed to cancer at the age of 57 last August 10.
“She is a national treasure and sports heroine who brought immense honor and pride to the country with her numerous achievements in international sports competitions. She’s one of the giants of Philippine sports and one of the greatest athletes the country has ever produced. Her passing is an immense loss not only to her bereaved family but to the entire Filipino nation as well,” Estrada said in filing Senate Resolution No. 131.
SRN 131 expresses the upper chamber’s sympathy and condolences to the family of the sports legend.
“Her unparalleled and celebrated professional career motivated a new generation of athletes and inspired many others to take up sports which fostered self-discipline, health and fitness, and patriotism,” the senator said.
De Vega’s personal best of 11.28 seconds in the 100-meter event became a national record which remained unsurpassed for 33 years, a testament to her athletic prowess and excellence, Estrada noted.
At the young age of 16, “Diay”, as De Vega was fondly called, won two gold medals in the 1981 SEA Games in Manila in the 200-meter and 400-meter events. She continued her winning streaks in succeeding SEA Games, securing gold medals in Singapore in 1983 and 1993, in Jakarta in 1987, and in Manila in 1991.
She reinforced herself as a highly decorated track and field superstar, with a total of nine gold medals from the biennial regional sports meet. De Vega also represented the country in the Olympics twice – in Los Angeles, United States in 1984 and in Seoul, South Korea in 1988.
She emerged as Asia’s sprint queen in the 1980s after winning the gold medal in the 100-meter event in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, India, and replicated the gold medal victory in Seoul, South Korea in 1986. She also claimed two gold medals in the Asian Athletics Championship in Kuwait City in 1983 and secured first place finish in Singapore in 1987 in the 100-meter and 200-meter events.
De Vega, born on December 26, 1964 in Bulacan, passed away last August 10 after a four-year battle with breast cancer.