MORALE support from no less than one of the greatest tracksters the country has ever produced.
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) will be inviting former Asian sprint queen Lydia De Vega to boost the morale of the athletics team competing in the 28 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico said the association is in constant contact with De Vega, who is now based in Singapore where she serves as athletics coach of a high school team.
The biennial meet is set June 5-16.
“I know some of our people are getting in touch with her. I personally saw her three years ago and I know her daughter (Paneng Mercado) when she was with the De La Salle volleyball team,” said Juico during the sendoff lunch hosted by Patafa at the Mariott Hotel on Thursday.
The popular sprinter simply known as ‘Diay’ won the gold medals in the 100-m dash of the 1982 (New Delhi) and 1986 (Seoul) Asiad, earning her the monicker ‘Asia’s sprint queen.'
She also won countless gold medals in the SEA Games, including the 1983 edition when she anchored the Philippines’ 12-gold medal haul – the best ever by any Filipino track and field team in the history of the biennial meet.
Following her retirement, De Vega decided to leave the country to take a coaching job in Singapore.
Juico said Patafa will definitely invite De Vega to attend the activities of the national team in the SEA Games in the hope of inspiring the Filipino tracksters in their ambitious bid to win eight to 12 gold medals.
“We will get in touch with her and she will be part of whatever gathering we will have there, prior to, during, and after the Games,” said Juico.
The former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman also hopes De Vega will have time to watch the Filipino athletics team in action.
“Kung meron siyang oras,” said Juico. “I’m sure manonood siya.”