Lydia De Vega Asia’s Sprint Queen (rev 8)

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Lydia De Vega

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

Lydia De Vega was Asia’s fastest women 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. (Updated) Also De Vega times of 11.28 and 23.35 are still the National Records, her Nationa and National Junior Record in the 400 stood from 1981 to 2013. She still holds the National Junior Record for 200 at 23.54. Now currently working as a trainer and 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-


  • 1984 & 1988 Olympic Games ( quarter finalist in both games )
  • Currently SEA Games record holder in 100m ( 11.28secs ) 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
  • 9 gold, 2 silver medals in 5 SEA Games
  • 9 gold, 2 silver medals in 5 ASEAN Cup
  • 9 gold in 3 ASEAN Schools Track & Field meet



  • 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):

Early Life


Lydia De Vega was born December 12 1964 in Meycauayan Bulacan. Her father was the late Francisco ‘Tatang’ a police man whose rigid coaching would turn De Vega into are countries 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 siyang
mali 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. Pag
nagkamali, sasaktan, sasabihan ng masasama,” – Lydia would later say of her father.

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 metres 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 11.76secs but had injured herself after breaking the tape. Hence a pulled muscle prevented her from participating also in the 200 metres. But still, a dream had become true when Lydia crowned herself as the fastest women in Asia; 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.



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 metres 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 team mates 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, in the 400m in 58.0secs and in the Long Jump with a leap of 5.27 metres. 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 over burdened with too many races in just in a single meet.

it also applied to her participation in the 10th SEA Games in Jakarta, still in 1979. Thefore wthin 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 metres. Also to cut down her competition programme 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 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 respectivel. 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 women in that year.

With two silver and one bronze medals in the 4th Asian Track & Field Championship in Tokyo, Lydia De Vega had a flying start into the 1981 season. With a time of 55.39secs, she was second to Japan’s Yunko Yoshida in the 400 metres. 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 the Malaysia following the disqualification of the winning Japanese team.




de-vega with marcosAt the end of the 1981 season, Lydia De Vega became the undisputed star of the 11th SEA Games in Manila. As a result 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 (these marks are still the Filipino Junior Records). Also Silver medals in both relay events completed her success but again showed the danger of being burdened with too many races at 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; first in a movie showing the slow but steady progress of an athlete from the modest very beginnings at grass roots level up to setting records and winning gold medals.

While her father, Francisco ‘Tatang;’ De Vega, who is 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 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 programme 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 metres. Also having also won a bronze with her team in the 4x400m relay she had to cancel her participation in the sprint relay due to to slight injury which she got in the 400 metres.

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

Photo Credit: Tony Benson

Since 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.

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 metres.



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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(…..The Story Continues)



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