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lydia de vega asia’s sprint queen

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen


Sports has had a great impact in my life. It gave me the opportunity to bring prestige to my country and molded me into what I am today. I want my children to experience the same.

 Lydia de Vega


During the 1980s. Therefore one of the important chess pieces of the Gintong Alay program in Track and Field. Hence turning the Philippines into a superpower in Asian Track and Field and inspired national pride in being Filipino.

During the 1980s. Therefore one of the important chess pieces of the Gintong Alay program in Track and Field. Hence turning the Philippines into a superpower in Asian Track and Field and inspired national pride in being Filipino. Click To Tweet

Prior to Gintong Alay De Vega was guided by her father Tatang De Vega with the program written by Claro Pellosis. But after 1980 she was guided by Magno Santos with input from Australian Head coach Tony Benson.

Lydia held the Philippine Record in the 100m of 11.28 from 1987 until 2020 until it was broken by Kristina Knott. Lydia held the National 200m Record for 32 years with 23.35 it stood from 1987 until 2019 when it was broken by Fil-Heritage sprinter Zion Corrales-Nelson to 23.24 and then 23.16. And then bettered further by another Fil-Heritage sprinter Kristina Marie Knott near the end of 2019 with 23.07 and 23.01.

And her National and National Junior Record in the 400 stood from 1981 to 2013 until it was broken by Jenny Rose Rosales.

Lydia still holds 2 Filipino Records in the 60m Indoor and 200m Junior Women’s. 


Lydia De Vega at one time held 7 Philippine Records. Her 100m Time stood for 33 years 1987-2020 until it was broken by Kristina Marie Knott. Click To Tweet


Due to the Longevity of her records which lasted around 32 years each on average. She is still considered the best ever locally produced Sprinter the Philippines has ever had. She currently works as a kids athletics coach in Singapore.


 This I learnt from being an athlete, no matter what adversities atrocities towards my name it will not stop me from becoming what I intend to be. 
– Lydia De Vega, Asia’s Fastest Women-

Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen Achievements:

  • 1984 & 1988 Olympic Games ( quarter-finalist in both games )
  • Currently SEA Games record holder in 100m ( 11.28 secs ) since 1987 & former 200m record holder ( 23.35secs ) from 1987 to 2001
  • Asia fastest women for 8 years from 1982 – 1990
  • 2 gold, 1 silver medals in 2 Asian Games
  • 4 gold, 1 silver & 4 bronze medals in 5 Asian Track & Field meet
  • 5 SEA Games 9 gold, 2 silver medals in 
  • 5 ASEAN Cups 9 gold, 2 silver medals
  • 3 ASEAN Schools Track & Field meet 9 golds


Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen Awards:

  • Philippines Sports Writers Association ( PSA )
  1. 1981 – Athlete of the Year
  2. 1986 – Athlete of the Year
  3. 1987 – Athlete of the Year
  4. 1992 – Major Award
  5. 1993 – Major Award
  6. 1994 – Special Award
  7. 1998 – Athlete of the Century
  8. 1999 – Millennium Athlete
  • Sports Columnist Organisation of the Philippines ( SCOOP )
  1. 1981 – Athlete of the Year
  2. 1986 – Athlete of the Year
  3. 1987 – Outstanding Achievement Award
  4. 1993 – Athlete of the Year
  5. 1994 – Hall of Fame
  • Ten Outstanding Young Men ( TOYM )
  1. 1993 – Sports Category
  • International Invitation Track & Field Competition, Bangkok
  1. 1983 – Best Female Athlete
  • Southern Coast Conference, USA
  1. 1986 – Athlete of the Year



Brief Story of Lydia De Vega ( Partly Extracted from Athletics Digest 1983, Singapore and modified by Pirie Enzo):


Lydia De Vega Early Life

Lydia De Vega was born on December 12, 1964, in Meycauayan Bulacan. Her father was the late Francisco ‘Tatang’ a policeman whose rigid coaching would turn De Vega into our country’s most successful and well known female track and field athlete.

Her mother Mary gave Tatang ten children. Hence Lydia first found her talent for sprinting at the age of 12 and would enjoy a career that spanned 17 years.


“He controlled my life. Gusto niya sundin ko lahat ng sinasabi niya. Wala siyangmali sa ginagawa niya sa akin. Siyempre umiyak ako. There were times I felt Iwas dying. Each and every workout, I have to finish. Walang pahi-pahinga. Pagnagkamali, sasaktan, sasabihan ng masasama,” – Lydia would later say of her father.


“He controlled my life. Gusto niya sundin ko lahat ng sinasabi niya. Wala siyangmali sa ginagawa niya sa akin. Siyempre umiyak ako. There were times I felt Iwas dying. Each and every workout, I have to finish. Walang pahi-pahinga. Pagnagkamali,… Click To Tweet


Track Queen Lydia De Vega from the Philippines During all the Asian Games in Delhi, sheer joy and deep disappointment were never as closely connected as after the 100 meters victory of Lydia De Vega.

While The 18-year-old PE student and film actress from the Philippines had won the final comfortably and unchallenged in excellent 11.76 secs. Especially relevant was she had injured herself after breaking the tape. Hence a pulled muscle prevented her from participating also in the 200 meters.

Hence, a dream had become true when Lydia crowned herself as the fastest woman in Asia.

Yet a dream of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who had started to compete in Track & Field meets with a promising 27.5secs for the 200m and the silver medal in the Philippines National Junior Championship. And who added a fourth place in the 100m to this success.


Lydia De Vega 1979

That was four years ago in 1978. Only one year later, in 1979 at the age of 15 years, Lydia De Vega already represented her country in the 3rd Asian Track & Field Championship in Tokyo.

Also with a leap of 5.47 meters, she came in 7th in the Long Jump competition but also carried home a bronze medal when she came third in the women’s 4x400m relay with her teammates Lorena Morcilla, Carmen Torres, and Myrna Ayo.

Still, in 1979, Lydia won herself three gold medals in the ASEAN School Championship in Singapore. She took the titles in the 100m in 12.5 seconds. Also the 400m in 58.0secs. And in the Long Jump with a leap of 5.27 meters.

But Lydia also won a silver medal in these Games when her 4x100m relay came in second to Malaysia. In conclusion, the Games already showed very clearly that Lydia was always in danger to be overburdened with too many races in just a single meet.

It also applied to her participation in the 10th SEA Games in Jakarta, still in 1979. Therefore within four days of competition, she took part in the 400m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay ( in which she came 5th each ), in the 100m  ( in which she was placed 6th and recorded her best result of the Games when she clocked 12.38secs in the heats ), and in the Long Jump in which she came 7th with a performance of 5.45 meters.

Also to cut down the competition program she resigned from taking part in the Long Jump after having taken the title in this event in the national junior meet of that year.

Lydia De Vega 1980

Lydia De Vega Age 16
Lydia De Vega Age 16

Furthermore, young Lydia made the news headlines when she won both the 200m and 400m in the first-ever ASEAN Cup in Jakarta with times of 24.53 and 55.83 seconds respectively.

Also, she was able to get a ranking in the Asian top-list with 12.0secs in the 100m, 24.53 seconds in the 200m ( this as Asia’s number four ), and with 54.6secs over the 400m, the best time recorded in the one-lap event by an Asian woman in that year.


Lydia De Vega

With two silver and one bronze medals in the 4th Asian Track & Field Championship in Tokyo, Lydia De Vega had a flying start to the 1981 season. With a time of 55.39secs, she was second to Japan’s Yunko Yoshida in the 400 meters. While in the 200m, she clocked 24.54secs to take the bronze behind the Japanese couple Emiko Konishi and Tomi Ohsaka.

Yet her silver came in the 4x100m relay in which the Philippines team was placed second behind Malaysia following the disqualification of the winning Japanese team.


lydia-de-vega with marcos
Lydia De Vega with President Marcos

At the end of the 1981 season, Lydia De Vega became the undisputed star of the 11th SEA Games in Manila. Consequently, she secured the gold medals in the 200m and 400m with an outstanding 23.54secs in the shorter distance. ( only Chi Cheng was faster in Asia ever) and with 54.75secs in the metric quarter-mile (400m junior record broken 3 times, 200m still stands)

Also, Silver medals in both relay events completed her success but again showed the danger of being burdened with too many races on the same occasion.

Consequently after leaving school and taking up studies in PE at the Far Eastern University in Manila. Lydia De Vega also started an interesting job as a film actress. Therefore first in a movie showing the slow but steady progress of an athlete from the modest very beginnings at the grassroots level, up to setting records and winning gold medals.

While her father, Francisco ‘Tatang;’ De Vega. Also, her coach, expressed his views about Lydia’s engagements when asked about her future plans, “Studies first, sports second, Film third.”

Lydia De Vega at the UAAP

Lydia De Vega during her University Days running for FEU. During the eight-lane days of the Rodriguez Centre in Marikina. Mr. Encaracion was a student at UP during this time he took the rare photo. (Photo Credits: by Paul Encarnacion).



Hence most of all Gold medals were of course also on Lydia’s program for 1982. Yet unchallenged again she won herself a triple crown in the 2nd ASEAN Cup in Kuala Lumpur with times of 11.8secs for the 100m, 24.2secs for the 200m, and 55.0secs for the 400 meters. Also has also won a bronze with her team in the 4x400m relay she had to cancel her participation in the sprint relay due to slight injury which she got in the 400 meters.


Lydia De VEga-6
Lydia De Vega Photo Credit: Tony Benson


Hence this was only three weeks prior to the 9th Asian Games in New Delhi. In the Indian capital. While Lydia seemed to be all right again when she won her heat in the 100m in excellent 11.77secs. And clipped off another 1/100 secs winning the finals from India’s P. T. Usha (11.95secs). And Korea’s Mo Myung Hee (11.99secs). Most noteworthy both of her opponents never being able to endanger the fleet-footed track queen from the Philippines.

Lyida De Vega
Filipino athlete Lydia De Vega raises her hand in triumph after winning the Asiad ’82 women’s 100 meter race. On the far right (No.488) is P.T. Usha of India, who finished second. Usha considers Lydia her biggest rival. – THE HINDU ARCHIVES


Therefore due to new pains caused by an old injury, Lydia had to cancel her participation in the 200m after her triumphant showing in the 100 meters.


Lydia De Vega


Year          Age               100m          200m          400m

1978          14 years             13.2               27.5

– 1979          15 years             12.1               26.6                58.8

1980          16 years             12.0               24.53              54.6

1981 17 years – 23.54 54.75

1982          18 years             11.76            24.20               55.0

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Lydia De Vega

De Vega went onto take the sprint double the following year at the Asian Track and Field Championships in Kuwait, with 11.82 and 24.07 and bronze in the 400m in 55.66.

Defeating her Indian rival P.T. Usha in the 200m, with Usha getting back in the 400m. She became one of very few Filipino Track and Field athletes to win the Asian Games and Asian T&F titles.

For her efforts that year Lydia De Vega was sent to the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland finishing fifth in her heat in 11.74 (+2.1) and then landed last in her quarter-final in 11.90 (which was won by Germany’s Marita Koch, with none other than Jamaica’s long hauler Merlene Ottey placing second).


Lydia represented the Philippines in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympic Games she made the quarter-finals again at a major championship this time finishing 6th in 11.97 in the quarters.

At the Asian Track and Field Champs the next year De Vega ended up with the bronze to PT Usha.



The following year however after bypassing the sea games she defended her Asian Games title in Jakarta, Indonesia with a win of 11.53 over Usha and a blanket finish 23.44 to 23.47 silver to Usha in the 200m.


“Opo nga, mabilis siya, but you know, I ran and I fast:” By Lydia de Vega after beating PT Usha of India in the 1985 Asian Games.


“Opo nga, mabilis siya, but you know, I ran and I fast:” By Lydia de Vega after beating PT Usha of India in the 1985 Asian Games. Click To Tweet


Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen 1987

Lydia De Vega


De Vega continued her winning form with a Philippine and still standing SEA Record in the 100m at the SEA Games clocking 11.28 and also reclaimed the 200m title in 23.57. As noted above a false start distracted De Vega from the task of breaking the Asian record of Chi Cheng.


She also won the double 100/200 at the Asian Athletic Championships in Singapore again with 11.43 and a National Record of 23.38. Attending her second Olympic games 1988 in Seoul, Korea her 11.67 this time not good enough to qualify past the heats. De Vega would take the next few years off to raise a family her first daughter Stephanie born in 1989 (2 other children followed one tragically killed in a jeepney accident in 2001).

Lydia De Vega



Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen 1991

De Vega made a comeback in 1991 recapturing the sea games 100m title with 11.44. De Vega retired on a high note after the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore winning the 100m in 11.60 and also breaking the 200m National Record with a run of 23.37.

In a career that spanned a decade and a half Diay brought home over 40 gold medals from international meets. Until today she remains the countries greatest ever female sprinter. With her 100-200-400m marks still standing. The Contributions of her late-father Francisco ‘Tatang’ De Vega helped shape and develop her to the very best of her abilities. Her feats in Track and Field captured the hearts and minds of the Filipino people.


“Sports has had a great impact in my life. It gave me the opportunity to bring prestige to my country and molded me into what I am today. I want my children to experience the same.”



Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen Link

The main content of this article is from the site below. However, I did add and modify some of it.


Lydia De Vega Other Interesting Links







Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen Articles: JR 200m Record Seems Safe

Lydia De Vega Articles
Legend of Philippines Track and Field Lydia De Vega Articles


Update: With Kayla Anise Richardson now in the seniors and unable to break De Vega Junior 200m Record. The current crop of Junior Females is now even further away. The record has now stood for 37 years!

Legendary sprinter Lydia De Vega 200m Junior Record looks fairly safe. The National Junior mark of 23.54 has stood since 1981 Manila SEA Games.

It was here that De Vega won the 200m as a 17-year-old. De Vega resurfaced again when a newspaper falsely reported that she had died. Of course, this is not true and She is currently coaching in Singapore.

First Princess Joy Griffey (2004) and then Kayla Anise Richardson (2015) were able to lower the Junior Records of De Vega in the 100m. Although De Vega still has the 100m Senior Record at 11.28.

The Junior and Senior 400m Record which De Vega co-held were broken by first Jenny Rosales (2013), Zion Corrales-Nelson (2014) and then Kayla Anise Richardson (2017).

De Vega still holds the Senior and Junior 200 Records.

*Her 200m Record was broken by Zion-Corrales-Nelson in 2019 with a 23.18 clocking.

Two Strongest Candidates pass into Senior Category in a few months

Kayla Richardson

The closest any athlete has goto this was 2015 SEA Games 100m Champion Kayla Anise Richardson who ran 23.67 in the 2015 SEA Games, and also had recorded a ‘wind-aided’ 23.45 (+3.5).

According to IAAF Competition Rule Book 2016-2017, marks over +2.0 cannot be counted as Records at any meeting. Richardson in 2017 wound up 5th in the SEA Games in 24.29.

Meanwhile, Zion Corrales-Nelson clocked 24.26 at SEA Games finishing fourth and has a PB of 23.74.

The Duo of Richardson and Nelson who have represented the Philippines already in several international meets. Are both Filipino Heritage athletes (athletes with a Filipino Parent). And they are both based in the United States.

They are both born in 1998, so they would only have until December 31 to eclipse De Vega Junior 200m Record.

Performing below expectations at the 2017 SEA Games in their individual 100 and 200-meter events. Nelson and Richardson. Joined Kyla Richardson and Eloiza Luzon to take the Women’s 4x100m National Record in 44.81.

The old record of 45.29 (Sinoro, Punelas, Ganosa, and De Vega) had stood since 1991. Apart from Eloiza who is 21, the other 3 girls are all juniors born in 1998.

It’s so Fake, Says Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen about her Death Hoax

By:  – Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
 / 08:55 PM August 30, 2017

Lydia De Vega


Lydia De Vega, once dubbed as the fastest woman in Asia, dispelled rumors circulating on social media that she has passed away.

In a conversation with Wednesday night, De Vega said she was surprised about her fictional death and that she actually felt sorry for whoever wrote the malicious article.


“I don’t even know why someone would write such thing,” said De Vega in Filipino. “This kind of joke is not funny. I hope this serves as a lesson that he won’t do this kind of thing again.”


A fake news website under the URL broke the so-called story about De Vega’s death, saying that the former Asian sprint queen supposedly succumbed to illness.

The two-time Asian Games gold medalist scoffed at the hoax. Which she found out when her children called her Wednesday morning to check up on her.


“I read the article, and it’s so fake. Because it said that I was rushed to V Luna (the avenue where the AFP Medical Center is located). But I’m not even in the Philippines,” said De Vega.


“I read the article, and it’s so fake. Because it said that I was rushed to V Luna (the avenue where the AFP Medical Center is located). But I’m not even in the Philippines,” said De Vega. Click To Tweet


De Vega is now based in Singapore as an athletics coach for students.



By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. Current editor and chief of, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is working towards his Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here

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