Indian track legend PT Usha mourns death of rival-turned-friend Lydia de Vega
MANILA, Philippines— India’s track and field legend Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha of paid tribute to rival-turned-good friend, Lydia de Vega, who succumbed to cancer at age 57.
Usha, a four-time Asian Games gold medalist, took to Twitter to bid farewell to the Filipino track star and express her deepest sympathy to the family.
“Deeply saddened on losing my athletics counterpart, a fierce competitor and good friend Lydia de Vega yesterday,” the 58-year-old tweeted on Thursday.
“She lost her life race to breast cancer but will always be remembered as a champion of life. My deepest condolences to her family!”
Lydia’s daughter, Stephanie Mercado de Koenigswarter, responded to Usha’s tweet, thanking her for the friendship that they built after facing each other in several competitions.
— Stephanie M. de Koenigswarter (@paneng_mercado) August 12, 2022
“On the track, the biggest rivals; but great friends in life. Thank you @PTUshaOfficial for your friendship with my mom,” said the former volleyball player.
De Vega and Usha were on top of the Asian track and field in the 1980s. The Filipino beat the Indian in their first race in the 100-meter dash of the 1982 Asian Games.
In 1985, Usha bounced back winning five gold medals in different events in the Asian Championships in Indonesia, while de Vega only brought home one bronze.
Diay retained her gold medal in the 100m of the 1986 Seoul Asian Games while Usha dominated the 400m and 400m hurdles and beat her fierce rival by just 0.03sec in the 200m.
A year after the 1986 competition, De Vega defeated Usha in the 100m and 200m of the Asian Championships in Singapore.
De Vega, who retired in 1994, was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and went through several medical procedures, including brain surgery last month.
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