Finding the best Filipino athletes here and abroad and giving them the best coaches, facilities and exposure made the late track star Lydia De Vega one of the great legends of her time.
Former Project Gintong Alay director Michael Keon, who is now the current mayor of Laoag City, said this as De Vega-Mercado was elevated to the Philippine Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame on Monday night at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
“It was the coaching. It was the support that the athletes got. We had the best equipment. We tried to have the best facilities and the best exposure,” said Keon as he reminisced on the days of Gintong Alay, which was launched in 1979 and disbanded in 1986.
The 68-year-old Keon talked about the Gintong Alay’s glory days and De Vega’s rise as a track superstar, a week after accepting his new role as one of the Philippine Sports Commission’s top advisers.
De Vega was once part of Project Gintong Alay, which took care of around 20 elite national athletes during its time.
Keon’s part with the PSC was discussed and accepted when PSC chairman Richard Bachmann visited Laoag City, while visiting Northern Luzon in the first week of March.
“He came to see me last week. He asked me for advise. It was a good meeting,” added Keon, who added that they came to an agreement that he will provide sound inputs to Bachmann and PSC from time to time.
Bachmann said talks with Keon were very fruitful.
“We talked about finding athletes, who can join the national team and represent the country. He agrees with having Fil-foreigners. But for the local athletes, we have to find them,” said Bachmann.
Keon also emphasized to Bachmann the need for great facilities.
Bachmann felt that such inputs from Keon made sense, and he will take action on this.