EJ Obiena’s highest leap: Coming to Lydia de Vega’s aid
To date, this could be EJ Obiena’s highest leap yet.
The Philippines’ brightest athletics star of the modern time has come to the aid of the country’s sprint queen of the past, as Obiena on Friday promised to donate all of his incentives from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in the last World Championships to the ailing Lydia “Diay” de Vega, who is battling breast cancer.
“I have just learned of the plans of PSC to reward me with P250,000 incentive for breaking the Asian Record,” Obiena wrote in a social media post. “This is deeply appreciated, and certainly needed since my funding is still yet to be sorted, despite the mediation agreement.
“However, on the flight back to Italy, it occurred to me that despite my own training needs, Mam Lydia needs this money more than I do.”
Cry for help
Once Asia’s fastest woman and darling of the track, De Vega is in the fight for her life. And one she can’t afford to lose.
Her daughter, volleyball player Stephanie Mercado, had asked for help in an Instagram post last week to help defray costs for her mom’s treatment.
“She has been diagnosed with this in 2018 and has been silently fighting the disease the past four years,’’ said Mercado.
De Vega has undergone several procedures over the years—including brain surgery—but Mercado said the condition of her mom remains serious.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of Mam Lydia’s health issues, and the pleas of her family for financial assistance for the mounting medical bills,” said Obiena, whose team composed of adviser James Lafferty and nutritionist Carol Lafferty promised to match his donation to give the De Vega family a total of P500,000.
Owing the legends
Obiena’s incentive is from his bronze medal finish in the recent World Championships, where he reset the Asian record with a leap of 5.94 meters.
Obiena said his success on the world stage is one he owes to the legends of Philippine athletics like De Vega, who also competed in the 1983 World championship.
“The legends of Philippines Athletics who paved a way for me. Who brought attention and success to athletics. I owe them a debt of gratitude. I thank them for the route they have forged for us competing today,” he said. “I have met Mam Lydia in Singapore on many occasions, and she has always been kind, supportive, and loving individual,“ Obiena said.