Lydia de Vega
Lydia de Vega Mercado (born 26 December 1964 - 10 August 2022) was a bemedalled track and field athlete, considered as Asia's fastest woman in 1980s for dominating the 100-meter and 200-meter dash events in the Asian track and field circuit. She was first acknowledged as Asia's Sprint Queen when she won the gold medal in the 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi, India. In the following year, Lydia brought to the Philippines the gold medal in the 200-meter dash event at the Asian Track and Field Championships in Kuwait. Lydia once again dominated in 1986 at the Seoul Asiad 100-meter dash, running with a record time of 11.53 seconds.
She achieved her personal best time of 11.28 seconds in the 100-meter dash during 1987 Southeast Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the 200-meter dash, her personal best was 23.35 seconds achieved in Walnut, California in 1986, while it was in Manila that she ran away in her best time of 54.2 seconds in the 400-meter dash.
With the numerous races she won, she retired as an athlete after she won the sprint gold in the 1993 Singapore SEA Games.
De Vega was born in Meycauayan, Bulacan. She was married to Paul V. Mercado, a former engineer at Meralco and an entrepreneur engaged in a fish pond business. They had three children including Stephanie Mercado-De Koenigswarter, a former member of the collegiate volleyball team DLSU Lady Spikers. In February 2001, her son Michael who was four years old, died in a car accident.
A retired athlete, she served as councilor of Meycauayan, Bulacan and as sports consultant to the Office of the Bulacan Governor. In early 2005, she was appointed as liaison officer of the Alliance of Coaches and Athletes of the Philippines with the Philippine Sports Commission.
In December 2005, De Vega moved to Singapore after receiving numerous job offers from Singaporean private schools to handle athletics. There she coached young athletes. She was one of the flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
De Vega was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. She underwent several medical procedures to treat the disease, including brain surgery. On 20 July 2022, her daughter Stephanie revealed that de Vega was in "very critical condition" and asked for prayers and donations. On 10 August 2022, de Vega succumbed to the disease. She was 57.
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