Track star Elma Muros-Posadas was moved to tears upon learning that sprint queen Lydia de Vega-Mercado has passed away.
Tears continued to flow from her eyes since learning that De Vega-Mercado, also known an as Diay, died due to complications of Stage 4 breast cancer last Wednesday.
“Iyung legacy niya sa lahat. Marami siyang naiwan na alaala,” said Muros-Posadas, who was once the “Long Jump Queen” of the Philippines.
Muros-Posadas, now the women’s coach of the University of the Philippines-Diliman track team, said De Vega-Mercado’s retirement and achievements have inspired generations of young athletes to strive for excellence.
The 55-year-old Muros-Posadas rose to fame at the same time Diay became known as Asia’s Fastest Woman when the latter was reaping international honors as a national athlete from 1981 to 1993.
Muros-Posadas, trained and competed alongside De Vega as they were both members of the Gintong Alay Track and Field program, which began in 1979.
The camaraderie and the times they spent training together helped develop a bond between them, along with other members of the national athletics’ team.
“Ang buhay atleta ay mahirap ipaliwanang. Ipag-pray na lang natin siya. I-let go na lang natin. At least nasa mabuting kamay na siya,” said Muros-Posadas.
De Vega-Mercado first made a splash in the 1981 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in Manila with gold-medal performances in the 200- and 400-meter events, which surpassed records set at the Asian Games at that time.
Then, De Vega-Mercado came away with the gold medal in the 100-meter dash in the 1982 New Delhi Asiad, before repeating the feat in the 1986 Asiad, where she clocked 11.53 seconds.
“Malayo man, nakagsakripisyo naman siya,” said Muros-Posadas as De Vega-Mercado moved to a teaching career in Singapore when she finally retired.
Muros-Posadas recalled one athlete, Joba Botana from Tacloban, who won a gold medal in the 2009 Palarong Pambansa in the elementary girls’ 200-meter sprints event.
Botana was gifted with a neon orange running shoes, which De Vega-Mercado used during her stints in the Asian Games the following year.
This inspired Botana to train harder as she eventually won medals in the initial staging of the Batang Pinoy and later excelled in track events in the Palarong Pambansa’s secondary level.
More podium finishes followed for Botana, while wearing De Vega-Mercado’s running shoes when she stepped into college at the University of the East and with Muros-Posadas guiding her.
Her neon orange shoes got retired when Muros-Posadas’ protégé decided to quit and finish college with honors.
As for De Vega-Mercado, she won the gold in the 100 meters at the SEA Games (1987, 1991 and 1993), and ruled the 200-meter events in 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1993.