MAYNILA -- World-renowned Filipino bowler Paeng Nepomuceno on Friday paid tribute to his friend, the late sprint queen Lydia de Vega.
In an interview on TeleRadyo's "Sakto," he described De Vega as "a role model athlete."
"Pagdating ng athletics, talagang si Lydia de Vega ang nagpasikat ng sports, ng athletics, lalo na ang track and field. Ang maibahahagi niya ay 'yung disiplina niya. Nakikita ko very professional ang training regimen niya, siya at saka ng daddy niya, si Tatang de Vega," Nepomuceno said.
"Ang nakita ko kay Lydia ay 'yung disiplina sa training. When she had a goal, she pursued it. At 'yung willpower niya, very prayerful disposition. Lagi siyang nagdarasal, every competition nakikita mo nagsa-sign of the cross siya," he added.
"Those are the things I remember of Lydia. She was a very good person and walang kayabang-yabang. She's a role model athlete. Kung gusto niyong maging role model athlete, sundan niyo ang ginawa ni Lydia."
Nepomuceno shared a historical moment with De Vega, his long-time friend, in 2019 as they served as flag bearers for the Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony.
He said he only found out about her condition when the track and field legend's daughter asked for help.
"A few weeks ago [ko lang nalaman] noong 'yung daughter niya na si Stephanie ay nanawagan at sinabi niya na may karamdaman ang mommy niya... Nalulungkot ako kasi I feel for her. I lost my wife [to] breast cancer din last February, so medyo familiar ako sa breast cancer," he said.
"It's a sad day for Philippine sports. We will miss Diay... Hindi niya pinagsabi may karamdaman siya."
De Vega, once considered Asia's fastest woman, recently passed away after a battle with cancer. She was 57.
She won nine gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games and two golds in the Asian Games. She was also a two-time Olympian (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988).
De Vega also set a personal best of 11.28 seconds in the 100-meters, a national record that stood for 33 years, until it was broken by Kristina Knott in 2020.