Born with a disability, had many serious accidents and was deceived to the point of empty-handed, but the governor Le Van Cong – who had just won a silver medal for Vietnam at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics – refused to surrender.

Le Van Cong (left) on the podium receiving a silver medal with his competitors in the men's 49kg weightlifting event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, August 26 morning.  Photo: TTVN Union

Le Van Cong (left) received a silver medal in the men’s 49kg weightlifting event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the morning of August 26. Photo: TTVN delegation

“I hope this gold medal will help people less fortunate to look at and have more motivation to strive.” Le Van Cong said so in 2016, after becoming the first person in history to win a gold medal for Vietnam at a Paralympics.

In fact, he himself had to look at that gold medal many times to have more motivation for himself.

A year after peaking in Rio, Le Van Cong set a world record in Mexico with a weight of 183.5 kg. But, in 2018, he unfortunately fell down the stairs, severely injuring his left shoulder. For two years, he had to focus on treatment with a specialist, until the end of 2020 he could do light exercise. By the beginning of 2021, the 37-year-old still had arthritis, edema, and cartilage in the humerus… Three weeks before the Paralympics, Cong could only practice, but never reached or exceeded the familiar weights.

Then, on the morning of August 26, Cong surpassed himself, even nearly setting up a miracle. With the same weight of 173 kg, he only accepted to win a silver medal because he was 0.1 kg heavier than Jordanian rival Omar Qarada.

Le Van Cong's achievement was equal to his opponent's, but he accepted the silver medal because he weighed more than 0.1kg.

Le Van Cong ranked second due to inferiority index opponent. Screenshots

Le Van Cong was born with atrophied legs – sequelae from his mother’s dengue fever during pregnancy. Physical disability and poor family situation in Ha Tinh make him live a closed life. However, this guy is very studious and loves his parents.

In his twenties Cong decided to go to the South to change his life. In Ho Chi Minh City, he initially applied to study electronic repair at a vocational school for the disabled. Alone in a foreign land and disabled, this energetic young man studied and worked part-time (sanding sandpaper in a carpentry workshop) to support himself. After graduating from school, Cong applied for jobs in many places, but no one accepted because of physical disabilities. With no other choice, he had to look for other jobs with meager remuneration, such as computer image editing, and even typing documents with a fee of only… 200 VND on two sides of paper.

But those jobs inadvertently helped Cong fall in love with weightlifting. “Due to atrophy of my legs, all activities are done by hand, so my biceps are very large and have been recommended by many people to practice sports at the Tan Binh District Sports Center,” he said. Initially, Cong chose athletics to practice, but with strong hands, coach Nguyen Hong Phuc switched him to weightlifting. After only a short time of getting acquainted, Cong has reaped the first results: silver medal at the national tournament in 2005. After that, continuous achievements came to him such as 2007 Asian gold medal, 2007 world silver medal, gold medal. Para Games 2009, 2014, world silver medal in 2014, gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games, 2015 Asian gold medal, broke the world record at the 2016 Paralympics, won a gold medal and set a world record in 2017 then HC Silver Paralympics Tokyo 2020.

This record of achievement would have been even thicker had he not been involved in a motorcycle accident, which resulted in a shoulder injury in 2011 and a three-year break.

In addition to injury, Le Van Cong’s life is not very smooth. After saving some money from his achievements, he moved from Long An to Hoc Mon, Ho Chi Minh City. But in the first stage, the papers failed, sometimes it seemed like they were lost because of being cheated. After asking for help everywhere, his family had a place to stay.

He then teamed up with friends and opened a sound and light business. But due to Covid-19, business was not so smooth, to the point of having to reduce staff. During his practice in Thu Duc, Cong had to run the shop remotely. In his spare time, the capital of Ha Tinh people is also a designer, repairing amps and speakers for guests. To improve his life, he sometimes runs a real estate business or sells fruit…

Despite the hardships, Le Van Cong is still rich in kindness. In 2019, he decided to auction the 2016 world championship gold medal, collecting VND 125 million to support a neighbor girl with liver cancer. “I came up from hardships, so I sympathize with situations like that. If I share or help anything, I do it, I never regret it,” he confided.

Duc Dong

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