'Asia's fastest woman' Lydia de Vega succumbs to cancer

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
'Asia's fastest woman' Lydia de Vega succumbs to cancer

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine track and field legend Lydia De Vega-Mercado has died after a years-long battle with breast cancer.

She was 57.

De Vega-Mercado's daughter and volleyball player Stephanie Mercado-de Koenigswarter confirmed the news on Wednesday evening.

It was also De Vega-Mercado's daughter that made public the multi-titled track star's health status last month when she asked for financial assistance to help ease the monetary burden of De Vega-Mercado's illness.

De Vega-Mercado, a nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, had been battling the disease since 2018 and recently underwent brain surgery.

The pride of Meycauayan, Bulacan also represented the Philippines in the Asian Atheltics Championships and the Asian Games where she hauled six gold medals.

She was also a two-time Olympian, having represented the Philippines in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics.

Philippine Athletics Track And Field Association President Terry Capistrano released a statement following De Vega-Mercado's death.

“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,” he said.

De Vega-Mercado was dubbed "Asia's fastest woman" in the 1980s. She competed in various events like the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter dashes and in Long Jump.

She retired in 1994 when she was 30 years old.

Until recently, she was working as an athletics coach in Singapore before her illness forced her to stop working.

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