Tuesday, December 3, 1991
Hard road to glory
FILIPINA Lydia De Vega-Mercado would have been an also-ran today instead
of being sprint queen of South-East Asia if not for one month of solid
To others, a month's training may seem insignificant. But to Lydia,
it made a world of difference.
On Saturday, Lydia, once the fastest woman in Asia found himself in
the unfamiliar position of having to upset favourite G. Shanti of
The training was so crucial for Lydia that she could not even afford
to cut short by an hour. It was for this reason that she skipped the torch
handing ceremory in Kuala Lumpur last month because of a squabble with the
Philippines officials as reported.
Her 100m win has silanced critics who felt she was over the hill.
Above all she won the gold for Philippines in front of the packed Rizal
Lydia's father Francisco, who is also her coach, said: "It would have
been personal glory for Lydia to go for the torch handing ceremony.
"But winning the Sea Games gold is national pride. We have no regrets
in skipping the trip to Malaysia for the torch handing ceremony despite
some adverse comments."
Lydia said: "My condition was just satisfactory during the Singapore
Open and ATP in Kuala Lumpur.
"I was all along training to peak for the Sea Games. I am glad that I
achieved what I had set out to do."
Lydia said Shanti, who beat her at the ATF meet, was also distracted
by the presence of Elma.
"She (Shanti) paid more attention to Elma and this helped me.
"My lane position also helped. I was in lane seven while Ratjai
Sripet (Thailand) and Shanti were in two and three. With Elma in lane
four, they were watching her.
"This allowed me to run my own race and come from behind."
Shanti, who took the silver, said: "I was really concentrating on
Elma, who had a strong start, and the next thing I knew, Lydia came from
"Lydia ran well. She has really improved since the ATF."
Francisco, who was confident Lydia would beat Shanti, said: "With the
training Lydia had gone throught and looking at Shanti's style of running,
we were confident of taking her out.
"Shanti is powerful runner but she does not finish well because of
her awkward arm action."
Lydia will clash again with Shanti in the 200m tomorrow but she is
modest about her chances.
"I think Shanti will win this one because I am not a strong 200m
runner. My main aim was the 100m. If I win the 200m, it would be a bonus,"
Shanti, determined to turn the tables on Lydia in the 200m said:
"After my defeat in the 100m, I am going flat".