Lydia De Vega

Last Updated on April 21, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

Lydia De Vega 

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, one of the essential chess pieces of the Gintong Alay program in Track and Field. Hence turning the Philippines into a superpower in Asian Track and Field and inspiring national pride in being Filipino.

Before Gintong Alay, De Vega was guided by her father, Tatang De Vega, with the program written by Claro Pellosis. But after 1980, she was trained 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 when Kristina Knott broke it. Lydia held the National 200m Record for 32 years with 23.35. It stood from 1987 until 2019 when Fil-Heritage sprinter Zion Corrales-Nelson lowered it to 23.24 and 23.16. The women’s 200m record was 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 Records in the 400 stood from 1981 to 2013. Until Jenny Rose Rosales broke them. Lydia still holds two Filipino Records in the 60m Indoor and 200m Junior Women’s.

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

“Lydia De Vega at one time held 7 Philippine Records. Her 100m Time stood for 33 years 1987-2020 until Kristina Marie Knott broke it.” 


Due to her records’ longevity, which lasted around 32 years on average

She is considered the best locally produced Sprinter the Philippines has ever had. She currently works as a kid’s athletics coach in Singapore (JS Athletics, 2019).

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

Lydia De Vega’s 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’s fastest women for eight years from 1982 – 1990
  • Two gold, and one silver medal in 2 Asian Games
  • Four gold, one silver & 4 bronze medals in 5 Asian Track & Field meet
  • 5 SEA Games 9 gold, two silver medals in 
  • 5 ASEAN Cups 9 gold, two silver medals 
  • 3 ASEAN Schools Track & Field meet nine golds

Lydia De Vega’s Accomplishments

  • 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

(JS Athletics, 2019)


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


Lydia De Vega Family

In Meycauayan Bulacan, Lydia De Vega was born on December 26th, 1964. Her father, the late Francisco “Tatang,” was a policeman who provided De Vega with the strict training that made her the most accomplished and well-known female track and field athlete in our nation.

Tatang was born to Mary and had 10 offspring. Because of this, Lydia discovered her potential for sprinting at the age of 12 and went on to have a career that lasted 17 years.

The 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. She added a fourth place in the 100m to this success.


“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 I was dying. Each and every workout, I have to finish. Walang pahi-pahinga. Pagnagkamali, sasaktan, sasabihan ng masasama,” – Lydia would later say of her father.


Philippines-based Queen Lydia De Vega tracking Pure happiness and profound sadness was never more intimately entwined as they were following Lydia De Vega’s victory in the 100 meters at the Asian Games in Delhi. While The 18-year-old Filipino film actress who is also a PE student won the final in a time of 11.76 seconds, which is particularly noteworthy given that she hurt herself after breaking the record. She was unable to compete in the 200 meters because of a pulled muscle. So, when Lydia declared herself the fastest woman in Asia, a dream had come true. That was four years ago, in 1978 (JS Athletics, 2019).


Lydia De Vega 1979

At the age of 15, Lydia De Vega competed for her nation in the third Asian Track & Field Championship in Tokyo just one year later, in 1979. Hence she finished seventh in the long jump with a leap of 5.47 meters and earned a bronze medal for finishing third in the women’s 4x400m relay team with Lorena Morcilla, Carmen Torres, and Myrna Ayo (JS Athletics, 2019).

In Singapore at the ASEAN School Championship, Lydia took home three gold medals. She won the 100-meter and 400-meter races in 12.5 and 58.0 seconds, respectively. And with a jump of 5.27 meters in the long jump. When her 4x100m relay team finished second to Malaysia during these Games, she also took home a silver medal. Therefore, the Games previously made it quite evident that Lydia was always at risk of becoming overloaded with too many races in one meeting.

Lydia De Vega 1980

Lydia De Vega Age 16
Lydia De Vega Age 16

Furthermore, teenage Lydia made headlines when she won the 200-meter and 400-meter events in Jakarta’s first ASEAN Cup in 24.53 and 55.83 seconds, respectively. Additionally, she achieved the best times ever for an Asian woman in the one-lap event that year with 12.0 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 24.53 seconds in the 200-meter dash (fourth fastest in Asia), and 54.6 seconds in the 400-meter dash (JS Athletics, 2019).


Lydia De Vega


Lydia De Vega made a great start to the 1981 season with two silver and one bronze medal at the 4th Asian Track & Field Championship in Tokyo. She finished behind Japan’s Yunko Yoshida in the 400 meters with a timing of 55.39 seconds. While she ran the 200 meters in 24.54 seconds to beat Japanese competitors Tomi Ohsaka and Emiko Konishi. However, she won silver in the 4x100m relay, where the Philippines team finished second to Malaysia after the winning Japanese team was disqualified (JS Athletics, 2019).

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

De Vega was the unquestioned star of the 11th SEA Games in Manila at the conclusion of the 1981 campaign. Consequently, she secured the gold medals in the 200m and 400m with an outstanding 23.54 secs shorter distance. (only Chi Cheng was faster in Asia at any time) and a metric quarter-mile record of 54.75 seconds (400m junior Record broken three times, 200m still stands)

Her feat was completed by silver medals in both relay competitions, underscoring the risk of taking on too many races at once. De Vega consequently began an exciting career as a film actress after graduating from high school and enrolling in PE classes at the Far Eastern University in Manila. Hence the first film thus depicts an athlete’s gradual but consistent rise from extremely humble beginnings at the grassroots level to setting records and taking home gold medals. While Francisco “Tatang” De Vega, her father. When asked about Lydia’s plans, her coach also gave his opinion, saying, “Studies first, sports second, Film third.” (JS Athletics, 2019).

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 a rare photo. (Photo Credits: by Paul Encarnacion).


Gold medals were, of course, also on Lydia’s itinerary for 1982 as a result. She won a triple crown at the 2nd ASEAN Cup in Kuala Lumpur with times of 11.8 seconds for the 100 meters, 24.2 seconds for the 200 meters, and 55.0 seconds for the 400 meters despite being unopposed once more. Additionally, because of a minor injury, she sustained during the 400 meters, she was unable to compete in the sprint relay after her team and won bronze in the 4x400m relay. Hence this was only three weeks before the 9th Asian Games in New Delhi, the Indian capital (JS Athletics, 2019).


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

Lydia appeared to be in good shape again as she won the 100-meter final in a time of 11.77 seconds, which was an improvement of 1/100 of a second over P. T. Usha of India and Mo Myung Hee of Korea (11.99secs). The dextrous Philippine track queen was never in danger from either of her rivals.

Lyida De Vega
Filipino athlete  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.


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





Lydia De Vega

The next year, at the Asian Track and Field Championships in Kuwait, De Vega won the sprint double with 11.82 and 24.07 and the bronze medal in the 400m in 55.66, upsetting her Indian rival P.T. Usha in the 200m before Usha came back in the 400m. She joined a select group of Filipino track and field competitors who have won both the Asian Games and the Asian T&F titles.

The Philippines sent Lydia De Vega to the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in recognition of her efforts that year. She came in fifth in her preliminary heat in a time of 11.74 (+2.1) and came in last in her quarterfinal in a time of 11.90; the event was won by Germany’s Marita Koch, with none other than Jamaica’s long-distance runner Merlene Ottey coming in second.



At the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984, Lydia represented the Philippines. She once more advanced to the quarterfinals of a major competition, placing sixth in 11.97 seconds. De Vega lost the bronze medal at the Asian Track and Field Championships the following year to PT Usha.



But the following year, she defended her Asian Games crown in Jakarta, Indonesia, skipping the SEA Games in the process. And in the 200 meters, Usha won the silver medal with a blanket finish of 23.44 to 23.47 and a win of 11.53 over her (Nair, 2021).


“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.;


Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen 1987

Lydia De Vega


In the 100-meter event at the SEA Games, De Vega set a Philippine record that is still in effect today (11.28), and she also successfully defended her 200-meter crown (23.57). As was already mentioned, De Vega’s attempt to break Chi Cheng‘s Asian Record was derailed by a botched start.

With 11.43 and a national record of 23.38, she also won the double 100/200 at the Asian Athletic Championships in Singapore.

She went to her second Olympic games in Seoul, Korea, in 1988, however, her 11.67 wasn’t good enough to advance past the heats this time.

The following few years would be De Vega’s to focus on starting a family. Stephanie, her first child, was born in 1989. (2 other children followed, one was tragically killed in a jeepney accident in 2001).

Lydia De Vega

Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen 1991

In 1991, De Vega made a return and ran 11.44 to win the 100-meter race at the sea games once more.

Lydia de Vega-Mercado (No. 209) flashes her trademark smile after ruling the women’s 100-meter dash finals in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games. Behind her is Elma Muros-Posadas, who calls the late track heroine “my idol.” ERNIE U. SARMIENTO

After the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore, De Vega retired on a high note after winning the 100-meter race in 11.60 and shattering the 200-meter national record with a time of 23.37.

Over the course of a career that lasted an eleven-and-a-half years, Diay won over forty gold medals at international competitions. With her 100, 200, and 400-meter times still standing, she is still the greatest female sprinter in the history of the nation.

While her late father, Francisco “Tatang” De Vega, made contributions that helped mold and develop her to the best of her skills. The Filipino people were moved by her achievements in track and field.

“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 Articles: JR 200m Record Seems Safe

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

Lydia De Vega


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

Legendary sprinter De Vega’s 200m Junior Record looks relatively safe. The National Junior mark of 23.54 has stood since the 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. But, 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, was first broken by Jenny Rosales (2013), Zion Corrales-Nelson (2014), and then Kayla Anise Richardson (2017).

De Vega still holds the Senior and Junior 200 Records.

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


The two Strongest Candidates pass into Senior Category in a few months

Kayla Richardson


The closest any athlete has got to this was the 2015 SEA Games 100m Champion Kayla Anise Richardson. Who ran 23.67 in the 2015 SEA Games and recorded a ‘wind-aided 23.45 (+3.5). 

According to IAAF Competition Rule Book 2016-2017, The IAAF cannot count marks over +2.0 as Records at any meeting. Richardson 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 have represented the Philippines already in several international meets; they are Filipino Heritage athletes (athletes with Filipino Parents). And they are both based in the United States. 

They were born in 1998, so they would only have until December 31 to eclipse De Vega Junior’s 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. 

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

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

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

In a conversation with Wednesday night, De Vega said she was surprised about her fictional death and 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.”


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

Consequently, 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.


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


Lydia De Vega’s Death Cause

The PSC will extend assistance and has been coordinating with Lydia de Vega’s daughter since Monday upon learning the situation of Diay.
BBM also instructed the PSC to extend necessary support when PSC OIC Atty. Iroy briefed him about the condition of the one-time Asian sprint queen during the courtesy call made by the Filipinas

Posted on her daughter’s Facebook account

My dearest mother, Lydia de Vega, is in very critical condition due to complications caused by her Stage 4 Breast Cancer condition. She was diagnosed with this in 2018 and has been silently fighting the disease for the past 4 years. As the disease is progressing, her condition is quickly worsening despite undergoing many procedures including brain surgery.
I am requesting everyone to please pray for her in this desperate time of need. If anyone would like to assist financially to cover her medical expenses. Any donation would be deeply and whole-heartedly appreciated maraming Salamat po!
For any financial assistance, kindly deposit to the following account:
BPI Savings
3209 0956 44
Stephanie de Vega Mercado
You may also reach me through this number 09196005244

Lydia De Vega’s Death

PinoyAthletics shares the sad news and heartfelt condolences to the family of Lydia De Vega Mercado. Hence Lydia always is remembered as one of the all-time greats of the Philippines Track and Field and the beloved sprint Queen of the Philippines.

Steph Mercado de Koenigswarter

On behalf of our family, it is with absolute grief that I announce the death of my mother, Lydia De Vega this evening, August 10, 2022, at the Makati Medical Center. While she fought a very good fight and is now at peace. While wake details will be announced very soon but for now. And I would whole heartedly appreciate your prayers for the soul of my mother.

Lydia de vega age

She passed away at the age of 58.

Lydia De Vega Height

5’7 (170 cm)


JS Athletics (2019) Coach Lydia, Retrieved Jan 1, 2019, from

Inigo, M.R. (2007) Sports @Far Eastern University A Legacy of Champions.

Nair, S. (2021, May 27) Lydia De Vega: Asia’s World-Class Track Queen in the ’80s. Asian Athletics, Retrieved from

Olympic Channel (2022) Lydia De Vega,

Philippine Almanac. (1990). Philippines: Aurora Publications.








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. And Currently is Consultant Coach with VMUF 2021- 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  Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. Currently working towards a Masters Degree in Education. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here

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