Bad luck is constantly clinging, but the golden girl of the Vietnamese weightlifting village Hoang Thi Duyen still heads to the Tokyo Olympics with an unwavering attitude – like the way that brought her to this sport.

Hoang Thi Duyen won a gold medal at SAE Games 2019.

Hoang Thi Duyen won the gold medal in the women’s 59kg content at SAE Games 2019. Photo: Lam Tho.

After competing in the Asian Championships (Uzbekistan), on April 23, Hoang Thi Duyen and her teammates returned to Vietnam and concentrated isolation for Covid-19 prevention in Binh Duong. On the morning of the 20th day, she eagerly prepared to go to Hanoi the next day when there was a positive case in the isolation area. So, Duyen and his teammates had to be isolated from the beginning.

In concentrated isolation, specializing in food cannot be guaranteed for athletes. The capital has its own nutritional conditions, while each meal there is only worth about 30,000 VND. However, Duyen and his teammates determined to accept reality because it was a common difficulty. They think of every way to be able to move their limbs, practice simple muscle exercises such as push-ups, piggybacking to perform the “squat” movement…

The last two weeks, new weights are transferred in. But after a whole month of vegetarianism, Duyen could not do intense exercise immediately, but only “creeped” to get used to weights again. It was not until June 3, that she returned to Hanoi to practice according to the lesson plan. However, regaining fitness as well as feeling, pace within a month for weightlifters is very difficult. Also because of the rush, she worked hard and suffered a recurrence of the left knee injury that was acquired in 2017. Currently, Duyen’s leg still hurts. “I wish the Olympics were delayed a week or two so I could recover,” she said.

Hoang Thi Duyen has been in love with weightlifting since 2008, when being accepted to practice at Lao Cai Sports Center. But at first, the parents didn’t agree, because they were worried that their daughter would suffer from weight training. Moreover, the family is also difficult, so Duyen is directed to the path of education, get a stable job, instead of competing in sports.

To evade the family’s prohibition, the Giay ethnic girl had to lie, often using the excuse to go to school to practice. But “the needle in the bag, it takes a long time to come out”, Duyen had to ask the teachers at the Center to convince her family, and she also had to try her best to achieve good results, as a way to prove to her father mom.

At the beginning, Duyen still had many technical limitations and had to go to Hai Duong to train for a year or two to correct the most basic techniques. At that time, only 12, 13 years old, had to leave home, only returned once a year, Duyen missed her parents very much. Looking at the weekend trainees returning to their families one after another, she felt very sorry and cried a lot.

But then, with extraordinary will, Duyen overcomes emotional problems, putting all her heart into practice and competition. In 2018, she resonated with a silver medal in the 59 kg weightlifting event of the 2018 World Weightlifting Championships. At the tournament in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan at that time, Duyen was only registered to compete in group B, but surpassed over many famous competitors in group A such as Rebeka Koha (Latvia), Mikiko Ando (Japan)… to finish second with a result of 103kg.

At the 30th SEA Games, Hoang Thi Duyen continued to impress. In the competition, Hoang Thi Duyen registered the highest starting weight of 90 kg and successfully performed. In the remaining four races, no one registered a starting weight of more than 79 kg. In the push competition, the Vietnamese electorate succeeded all three times, with weights of 105 kg, 110 kg and 115 kg, respectively. In the general election, Duyen reached 210 kg, 21 kg better than the runner-up Colonia (289 kg) and up to 33 kg compared to the Indonesian athlete who won bronze medal Putri Adriana (277 kg). This is the biggest achievement gap between the three positions in the top 3 in weightlifting categories at the 30th SEA Games.

At the 2021 Asian Championships in Uzbekistan, Duyen is the only athlete of the Vietnamese weightlifting team to win two bronze medals when reaching a total of 216kg (100kg jerk, 116kg push). Thanks to that, she got a chance to go to Tokyo to attend the Olympics. “I am very happy to be able to participate in the prestigious Olympic arena for the first time, where the world’s top athletes gather. But I am also a little nervous and nervous because I don’t know if I can compete well or not.” , Duyen shared before leaving for Japan. “I understand everyone’s expectations. But, I have faced many difficulties recently, so I can’t make promises in advance. I can only be sure that I will do my best.”

In the 59kg category, Taiwan’s Hsing-chun Kuo is considered the strongest candidate, having won the world championship and also participated in three Olympics. Next is Andoh Mikiko, athlete of host Japan, then Ecuadorian athlete Escobar Guerrero. Both of these people have the same or slightly better qualifications than Hoang Thi Duyen. However, if tactically reasonable, as well as developing her true ability, the golden girl of the Vietnamese weightlifting village can completely aim for a medal dispute.

Vietnamese athletes attend the Olympics including: Le Thanh Tung, Dinh Phuong Thanh (gymnastics); Quach Thi Lan (athletics); Do Thi Anh Nguyet, Nguyen Hoang Phi Vu (archery); Nguyen Van Duong, Nguyen Thi Tam (boxing); Truong Thi Kim Tuyen (taekwondo); Nguyen Huy Hoang, Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (swimming); Dinh Thi Hao, Luong Thi Thao (boat racing); Nguyen Tien Minh, Nguyen Thuy Linh (badminton); Thach Kim Tuan, Hoang Thi Duyen (weightlifting); Hoang Xuan Vinh (shooting) and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy (judo).

Vietnamese athletes have all been vaccinated against Covid-19 and will leave on the evening of July 18.

The Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Tokyo in 2020, but had to be delayed by nearly a year due to Covid-19. Currently, due to the complicated pandemic situation, the organizers decided to ban spectators from entering the field.

Lam Tho

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