Hanoi (VNA) – Taking up wrestling by chance, Vu Thi Hang has stuck to the sport meant for men all her life and has made her name at the Rio Olympics this summer.
Born to a poor family in Tan Yen district, Bac Giang province, Hang is the only child who loves and follows sport since she was a little girl.
She was a member of her school basketball, volleyball and traditional martial arts clubs.
However, she never thought of taking up wrestling until she was chosen by a village coach Duong Van San, a former wrestler, to take part in his club in the Dinh village in Ngoc Chau commune in 2007 when she was 15.
“I was looked agile and flexible so he (coach San) asked me to test my skills at his club. Looking at the wrestlers practicing I found quite a few things interesting and decided to join,” Hang said.
Since then the girl has cycled 10km every day from her house to the club to sharpen her technique and returned home in pain.
“I was impressed with her hard work, good listening skills and inquiring mind, which helped her advance speedily,” coach San said. “She is a mirror to the junior wrestlers of the club.”
“I was afraid that my parents would be worried and would stop me so I lied to them, telling them that I was taking part in extra classes. Only when I began training at the Hanoi’s Elite Athletes Training Centre, did they know,” Hang said.
Coach Doi Dang Hy, on one of his tours to scout for athletes in Tan Yen district, discovered Hang. The former Southeast Asian Games champion, then the national team head coach, immediately signed a contract with Hang and made her join the Hanoi Team.
The 16-year-old girl from the rural area encountered a lot of difficulties initially at the centre.
She was too shy to talk with anybody for several months. The change strongly affected her in both, lifestyle and training activities. She was even fined often because of slowness.
But talent is still talent. Hang may have been slow but she just needed two years to become a member of the national team in 2010.
Under a professional environment with qualified coaches and experts, Hang is like a fish in water. Her techniques have approved while her weak points have been fixed.
“She is a typical athlete, and a professional wrestler with good skills and high responsibility. We are lucky to have her in our team,” coach Hy said.
After nearly eight years in wrestling Hang has a collection of medals. She has had no worthy rival in the 48kg category in the national championship since 2013 after winning numerous titles in the youth tournaments. She took a silver at the Asian Youth Wrestling Championship and a gold at the 27th SEA Games in 2013. Earlier, she earned a silver at the World Youth Wrestling Championship.
And March 20 was a history day in her calendar when Hang successfully won her berth in the Rio Olympics.
It was a qualification event in Kazakhstan and Hang defeated So Sym Hyang 3-2 from the Democratic Republic of Korea in the semi-final round to enter the final. Being one of two finalists of the class meant that she officially qualified for the Games, globally the most prestigious sports festival organised every four years.
“I want to share my happiness with my family, friends and fans who have strongly supported me and created the best conditions for me in these wins,” Hang said after her win.
“I dreamt of being a martial artist when I was young, but my life changed when I became a part of the wrestling club. And now I am very pleased with my slot in Brazil,” she said.
She also made her parents and former coach proud.
“She has worked hard in eight years, living far from home without the care of her parents. It is great that she has made it,” her father Vu Van Tuyen said.
“It is sudden happiness that she brought to us. Her success will prove to be a strong push for the wrestling movement in our district and province,” coach San said.
While enjoying her success Hang knew that challenges were still ahead.
“Olympics is the biggest tournament, and all wrestlers here are very strong. It is my debut and I feel a little pressure. I have to work harder to prepare for the matches, but no matter how strong they are, I will wrestle with confidence,” Hang said.
“People said that her ticket is a surprise but it is not. It was in our plan since the London Olympics. Hang is speedy, enduring and clever. She will definitely grab more titles in the future,” coach Hy said.
Hang is due to kick off her tournament on August 17 at the Carioca Arena 2. Her rival is identified after the draw on the same day.-VNA
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