Freeman Cebu Sports

Thanks for the memories, Diay

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

Established in late 1979, a national sports program was created to develop track and field athletes. Called Gintong Alay, the country consistently did well in athletics breaking national records and placing within the top three in the overall standings in SEAG competitions.

People Power effectively ended Gintong Alay in February 1986. The Philippine Sports Commission was later established in 1990 to continue what Gintong Alay had started.

The program discovered track talents and two of the more prominent record-breaking athletes are Isidro del Prado and Lydia de Vega. Both represented the country at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

As a teenager and coached by her father Francisco, Lydia dominated the 1981 Manila SEAG 200m and 400m sprints, capturing the hearts of Filipinos. On to her twenties and adding the 100m to her event, the Asian Games and the Asian Athletics Championships became Lydia’s stomping ground, earning her the title as Asia’s sprint queen.

Diay to family, friends and fans, she took a break from active competition between 1989 to 1991 where she completed college and married Paul Mercado, an engineer. She finally retired from competing in 1994 after winning the 100m during the Manila-Fujian Games.

She served as councilor to her native town of Meycauayan in Bulacan. In 2005, Lydia accepted an offer from a Singapore private school to train and coach young athletes. Her retirement years were mostly spent teaching in Singapore.

Lydia ran a much more difficult race beginning in 2018 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She finally lost her final sprint last Wednesday evening at the age of 57.

Lydia’s track legend will live on. Thank you for the memories, Diay.


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