Lydia de Vega-Mercado, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, athletes in the Philippines, finished her final lap and the mood in the Philippine sports world turned somber.
The former Asian sprint queen died of breast cancer on Wednesday after a four-year battle with the horrific disease. She is 57 years old. De Vega-Mercado’s daughter, Stephanie de Koenigswarter, made the announcement on social media.
“On behalf of our family, it is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Lydia de Vega, at Makati Medical Center on August 10, 2022,” de Koenigswarter wrote. “She It’s been a good fight and it’s calm now.”
Before her death, de Vega-Mercado received a lot of support after her daughter, Stephanie de Koenigswarter, called last month to say the once-fastest runner in Asia was in critical condition and needed help.
But on that sad, quiet night, sad news came. Death just knocked on the door. In its heyday, the legend affectionately known as “Diay” was an unstoppable force in sprint racing not only in Southeast Asia but throughout Asia.
She is a two-time Asian Games gold medalist, four-time Asian champion and nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist. She is also a two-time Olympian, representing the country at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Philippine Athletics Athletics Association (PATAFA) President Terry Capistrano extended his condolences to the family of De Vega-Mercado on behalf of the association. “On behalf of the men and women of PATAFA, we send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of the great Lydia de Vega. We have lost one of us, our best, but her spirit will live on in our hearts,” Card Pistrano said.