Covid-19 arrived, partly swept away the enthusiasm and income of athletes, including Nguyen Van Duong – the first Vietnamese boxer after 30 years of winning tickets to the Olympics.

Nguyen Van Duong received tickets to the Olympics after the Thai martial artist took off in less than 60 seconds, on March 9, 2020 in Jordan.

Nguyen Van Duong received tickets to the Olympics after the Thai martial artist took off in less than 60 seconds, on March 9, 2020 in Jordan.

– As the athlete with the most significant international achievements when he won tickets to the Tokyo Olympics and finished second in the election of Vietnam typical athletes 2020, how did you celebrate the past Tet?

– Covid-19 makes things less special. I left the National Sports Training Center in Ho Chi Minh City on January 30 to Bac Giang with a request from the coaching staff to limit travel. That is a general recommendation for all athletes. Therefore, I just hang around at home. After returning to the army on the evening of February 21, we went through the medical procedures and started to practice. But I only practice vegetarianism, but I do not know when to be promoted.

– That means in 2021, you do not have any specific plans?

In theory, the Olympics are being held this year so I still have to prepare. But honestly, mentally prepare. The training lesson plan has been adjusted by the coaching staff, but the target is only for domestic, not international competitions. This year, there is only the Cup of National Clubs in April and the National Championship in September. But with the current situation of Covid-19, it is not known whether it can be organized or not. For boxers like us, just practicing without getting on the punching station is very stressful.

Personally, Covid-19 is devastating. A few more days is a full year I beat Chatchai Decha Butdee in the quarterfinals 57kg, to pay off the debt in the SEA Games final and become the first Vietnamese boxer in more than three decades to attend the Olympics – since of Dang Hieu Hien senior at Seoul Olympic 1988. Returning from Jordan in March 2020, I am extremely excited, always looking forward to the day to be promoted to the Olympics. But then, Olympic was postponed. I am extremely disappointed. Everyone thinks that boxers must wear nerves of steel. But at that stage, my mentality dropped terribly. The feeling is hard to describe in words.

Nguyen Van Duong only wished Covid-19 would end soon, so that he could take the stage and fight real battles.  Photo: FBNV

Nguyen Van Duong only wished Covid-19 would end soon, so that he could take the stage. Image: FBNV.

– How is a day of Van Duong going?

– I trained with 10 boxers from the team in Ho Chi Minh City. Our day starts at 5:30 with physical exercises like running 10 kilometers or 12 kilometers, and then running at a speed of 100 meters or 200 meters. We then punched bags, six to eight sets, lasting three minutes each. Morning usually ends at 8am with wind punching, abdominal muscle support, push-ups. In the afternoon, we practice from 15:00 to 18:00, inclined in technical – tactical. After wind punching, we got into double punches, from technical double punches to free double punches. At the end of the session is bag punching and supplementary practice. Every day is the same.

Whoever practices this antagonism will understand how tired. Normally, after practicing, we can go out for coffee and chat to relieve stress. But because of Covid-19, we spent several months in the Center so we were very upset. Just practicing and not playing made us more pressing. With strong fighting subjects like boxing, boxers really need to go to the floor, there are real battles. It not only improves performance, but also relieves mentality and generates income.

– What is the actual income of Van Duong?

– Since the Olympic qualifiers are not part of the bonus system of the General Department of Sports and Sports and the locality, I basically do not receive anything. Last year, by competing in two awards under the local reward system, I earned an additional 21 million dong (15 million for the National Championship gold medal and six million for the National Cup gold medal). I am fortunate to still receive the salary of the local and the team. But honestly, it’s just enough to eat. With athletes like us, we have to compete and achieve in order to earn income. Fortunately, I am not married, and have not had to worry about my wife and children, so I am not in need.

Lam Tho


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