MANILA, Philippines—Stephanie Mercado-de Koenigswarter and Jonathan Mercado, children of the late Lydia De Vega-Mercado, received the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association’s Hall of Fame award on behalf of their mother.
The siblings accepted the PSA’s high honor for the two-time Olympian while also sharing the knowledge bestowed upon them by the Philippine sporting legend, who passed away last year after a battle with breast cancer.
“There are two things we learned from our mom, […] she always told us to be respectful and disciplined,” said Stephanie during the PSA Awards night on Monday at Diamond Hotel, Manila
“If you have a goal, if you’re disciplined and you really want to reach that goal, you will do everything it takes to achieve it and we saw it in mom. She started running when she was 15, she started not winning right away but because of her determination, she achieved a lot.”
De Vega-Mercado rose to fame in the athletics field back in the 1980s when she entered the Olympics twice, in ’84 and ’88.
While not reaping any awards in either Olympic Games, De Vega-Mercado kept winning in several global tilts, including a career-defining Southeast Asian Games gold medal tally of nine.
She won gold thrice in ’87, ’91 and ’93 in the SEA Games’ 100-meter dash event.
Her son, Jonathan, also recalled an important message left to him by his mother—a message he also wants other Filipino athletes to instill in themselves to remember De Vega-Mercado by.
“My mother taught me that life would throw whatever to make you say no but she taught me that despite that, despite all those [challenges] don’t listen. Keep pushing yourself and you will reach your goals,” said the graduating student.
“Always, laban lang (keep on fighting),” added Stephanie.
Being the child of a legendary athlete may be pressuring but Stephanie, who formerly played for La Salle in the UAAP, said her mother taught her well despite it.
She wants to teach the same thing to her kid.
“He’s in swimming now but after that, we’ll introduce other sports to him. I play volleyball, my husband plays tennis and football,” said the volleyball figure.
“We’ll make him try whatever we can introduce to him but at the end of the day it’s up to him to decide,” she added.
Asia’s Sprint Queen was awarded Hall of Fame honors the same night Elma Muros, a fellow athletics legend, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.