Sunday, June 13, 1993

Queen of the tracks

THE Filipinos are sure that Lydia De Vega Mercado will retain the 100m
Lydia's main rival is none other than Malaysia's G. Shanti who lost to
her in the Manila Games. Shanti, however, turned the tables on the
Filipina in the 200m.
Although Lydia's father and coach, 65-year-old Franciso Tatang' de Vega
has been modest about his daughter's chances, athletics followers feel the
others are intimidated by Lydia's presence.
"Lydia has charisma. The opponents fear her," said a veteran athletics
journalist from the Philippines, E. Fernandez.
"The 200m will be an open affair. But we believe the 100m belongs to
Lydia. She will pull through the challenge from Shanti."
Ten years ago, at Singapore, Lydia was shocked by Thailand's Wallapa
Tangjinutsorn. However, at the same venue in the Asian Track and Field
championships in 1987, she triumped over India's P.T. Usha clocking
Naturally, Lydia is hoping to be as lucky as she was in the ATF meet
when she appears for the third time at the National Stadium.
"It is going to be keenly contested. I too want to win but a great deal
will depend on what happens on race day," said the 28-year-old athlete.
Lydia is the holder of both the 100m and 200m Sea Games record - 11.28
and 23.54 respectively - which clocked at the 1987 and 1981 Games
At the last Games in Manila where Lydia edged Shanti, she clocked 11.44.
Her personal best for the 100m was clocked during the 1987 Sea Games in
Jakarta and is the closest an Asian woman has come to Chi Cheng's
Continental record of 11.22 recorded in Vienna in 1970.
Malaysian coach Harun Rasheed Othuman said it is going to be a touch-
and-go affair.
"It could be Lydia, Shanti or any of the other athletes because most of
them have been clocking around 10.4 recently," said Rasheed.
"Shanti has been shaping up well and a great deal will depend on what
actually happens on that day. we just hope that everything goes well for
her, like a good start."
The 26-year-old athlete has been shying away from publicity and quietly
preparing herself.
The Perak-born athlete said: "I have trained hard and am mentally
prepared, but I am sure Lydia has been training hard too. I really cannot
say anything except that the best woman will win. We will see how I
In the recent selection trials for the Sea Games last month, Shanti
clocked 11.50 erasing her previous national record of 11.51 set in 1991.
While focus is on Lydia and Shanti, Vietnam's Truong Hoang My Linh is
also secretly hoping to be the party spoiler.
The 24-year-old athlete who has been the national champion since 1985 in
both the 100m and 200m, had clocked 11.95 at the Thai Open recently to be
placed third behind Taiwan's Olympic semifinalist Wang Huei Chen and
China's Qi Hong.
The soft spoken Troung revealed that it was her dream to get the gold
medal in the sea Games. But she was quick to add: "It's my dream but I
really cannot tell what chances I have for a medal. I want to do my best,
but anything can happen. We'll have to wait and see."
The 100m semifinals is the fourth event on the first day of the
athletics programme tomorrow at 9.20am.
Shanti will be running in Lane 4 in the second semifinal together with
Mona Kunalan (Singapore), Marsita Kamel Jumat (Brunei), Rhoda Sinoro
(Philippines), Savitree Srichure (Thailand), Truang and Rita Pattepeilohy.

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