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'Champion of life': Indian track legend PT Usha mourns loss of rival Lydia De Vega

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
'Champion of life': Indian track legend PT Usha mourns loss of rival Lydia De Vega
Lydia de Vega-Mercado during the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan
SEAG Network

MANILA, Philippines — India's Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil "PT" Usha, one of the late Lydia De Vega-Mercado's fiercest rivals, joined the Philippine sports community in mourning the loss of the Filipino sports icon.

On Thursday, Usha, who competed alongside De Vega-Mercado multiple times in her career, shared her condolences to the track star's family.

"Deeply saddened on losing my athletics counterpart, a fierce competitor and good friend Lydia de Vega yesterday," wrote Usha on Twitter.

"She lost her life race to breast cancer but will always be remembered as a champion of life. My deepest condolences to her family," she added.

De Vega-Mercado passed away on Wednesday at 57 after a years-long fight with cancer.

Usha, 58, battled De Vega-Mercado for Asian track supremacy in the 1980s when both their careers peaked. In the 1982 Asian Games, the Filipina drew first blood when she beat Usha in the 100-meter dash event.

But Usha proved to be a worthy rival as not long after, the Indian track star won gold in 1983, when she ruled the 400-meter event of the Asian Athletics Championships.

In the same meet, De Vega-Mercado won twin golds in the 200-meter and 100-meter events.

Usha and De Vega continued their domiance in the next two editions of the Championships with a haul of seven gold medals between the two runners.

TRACK AND FIELD

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