Lydia De Vega: She is legend
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 11, 2015 08:51 PM
Since day one of the athletics competition, nandito lang ako palagi para manood. Nakita ko lahat ng mga players natin. Yung iba medyo bata pa. But along the way magi-improve pa naman sila --- Lydia De Vega-Mercado
SINGAPORE -- Amid the chaos in the finals of the athletics competition of the 28th Southeast Asian Games at the sprawling National Stadium here on Thursday, there was a familiar spectator trying to blend into a thick Singaporean crowd.
She was wearing black shirt, eye glasses and red cap.
"I'm working here for the past 10 years and I'm coaching athletics in the primary and secondary schools as well as for people with disability," said 50-year old Lydia de Vega, who was once hailed as Asia's fastest woman, but is now based in this wealthy tiny state after hanging up her sneakers 1994.
"Since day one of the athletics competition, nandito lang ako palagi para manood. Nakita ko lahat ng mga players natin. Yung iba medyo bata pa. But along the way magi-improve pa naman sila."
De Vega's legend is one for the books.
She kicked off her track career as a skinny 18-year old prodigy from Bulacan who claimed the gold medal in the women's 200-meter and 400-meter events of the 1981 Manila SEA Games. The following year, she ran away with a golden triumph in the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games followed by another incredible performance in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.
She ruled the 100-meter event with an iron hand in 1987, 1991 and 1993 biennial meets. She also topped the women's 200-meter run in the 1981, 1983 and 1987 SEA Games.
More than anything else, she represented the country in the Olympics in the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Despite her colorful credentials, the Philippines' track and field program still has a special place in her heart.
"I always say that they train hard and do the best," said de Vega, who was cheering at the sidelines when Eric Cray and Kayla Anisse Richardson shattered the standing SEA Games record in the men's and women's 100-meter dash.
"So far, so good. Our athletes are delivering. They are doing well. I like what I'm seeing."
Then, she politely excused herself and went back to her seat.
She planted her eyes on Filipino athletes who are competing as if reminiscing her glorious days when she used to be the star of the show.
She is a legend, indeed.