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    Next 'Asia's sprint queen' out there just waiting to be discovered, says Diay

    Nov 23, 2018
    Asia's former sprint queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado with her children.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    LYDIA De Vega believes that in due time, someone will come along and follow in her footsteps to become Asia’s sprint queen.

    Interviewed after her induction into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, De Vega said she has no doubt that there are track prospects around the country just waiting to be discovered.

    “Baka naman hindi pa pinapanganak. ‘Yun ang sabi nila,” the former track star said. “Naniniwala din po ako na maraming mas magaling pa sa akin. Kaso hindi pa sila matagpuan. Hindi pa sila matsempuhan kung nasaan sila.”

    Since her retirement in 1994, the Philippines has not seen anyone come close to the achievements of De Vega, who earned the tag as Asia’s sprint queen after winning the 100-meter gold medal in the 1982 and 1986 Asian Games.

    De Vega, a two-time Olympian, also won the Southeast Asian Games gold in the century dash three times.

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    The track great from Meycauayan, Bulacan said she also started out as a nobody but hit new heights after being discovered in small athletic meets.

    “Nung araw, kung hindi ako sumasali sa track and field, hindi rin ako madi-discover. Ganun lang din. Maghintay lang po tayo. Darating din ‘yung panahon na minimithi natin na may susunod na Lydia De Vega and other good athletes,” said De Vega.

    De Vega was one of the 10 athletes that formed part of the third batch of inductees into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame. The Singapore-based athletics coach said she is deeply honored by the award.

    “Isa ito sa pinakamahalagang awards, achievement na nakuha ko kasi, sabi ko nga, 'I’m a champion. I’m a winner.' Napakasarap kumbaga. Napakasarap hawakan at tanggapin ‘yung mga ganitong klaseng award,” De Vega said.

    De Vega admitted she was nervous prior to attending the event as she has been out of the country for more than a decade.

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    “Sa gabing ito, medyo kinakabahan po ako because I’ve been out of the country for 13 years kasi sa Singapore ako nagwo-work, doon ako nagco-coach. Umuwi lang po ako ngayon dahil para sa akin ito ay pinaka-importante.

    “Ito po ay nagbibigay sa mga piling-piling mga atleta at ako ay masayang masaya na isa ako sa napili na makatanggap ng award ko."

    De Vega also thanked her late father Francisco, better more known as ‘Tatang,’ for motivating her to be the best that she can be as an athlete, as well as sports officials, fellow athletes, and fans who stood behind her during her career.

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    Asia's former sprint queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado with her children.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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