Swimmer Vo Thanh Tung, 35, has been one of Vietnam's top disabled athletes for the last 10 years, and he has no plans to slow down.
|Swimmer Vo Thanh Tung has been elected as the outstanding disabled athlete of the country for 10 years in a row. — Photo tienphong.vn|
Throughout his 16-year career, the wheelchair-bound Tung won a Paralympic silver medal in 2016 and secured the top position in short course races in many Asian Para Games. He has won more than 200 medals from tournaments both domestic and international.
Tung feels satisfied with what he has achieved but is still determined to push for more glory.
“I am very happy and proud to be the outstanding disabled athlete of the country for 10 years in a row. I had been trying to train and compete hard for the past 10 years,” Tung told Việt Nam News.
“Now, it is time for me to look towards the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo this August,” said Tung.
“I qualified to compete in the men’s 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke. My goal is to defend my silver medal which I gained in the last Paralympics in 2016 in Brazil and maybe I can change my medal colour,” he added.
Tung said he and his teammates are working hard to prepare for the Paralympics and the pandemic hasn't done anything to hurt their determination.
Currently, Tung is under the management of the Da Nang Sports Training Centre but has been allowed to return to Can Tho Province to train to be near his family.
Tung focuses his training on his favourite races, namely 50m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Besides training, he tries to get enough rest to ensure he has a strong mentality.
“To defend my silver medal in this Paralympics, I need to put more effort into my exercises, as well as my upcoming competition schedule,” said Tung.
“I have competed in many races so I have gained a lot of experience. Moreover, in terms of nutrition, my teammates and I always work to the doctor's advice, so it is completely enough to complete the heavy training schedule from the coach.
“In addition, the training area is well equipped with physical facilities and equipment, so I don’t worry about training wrong or too much. I only need to focus on training and have a good mentality to look forward to the upcoming Paralympics,” said Tung.
|Swimmer Vo Thanh Tung (middle) seen at the ASEAN Para Games 2017 in which he won three golds and broke two records. Photo webthethao.vn|
Most memorable event
“Only winning a medal can write history” was the slogan of the Vietnamese swimming team at the Paralympics in Brazil in 2016.
Bravery, passion and relentless efforts helped Tung write his name in Paralympics history with a silver medal in the men’s 50m freestyle. He also broke his own Asian record.
“When I finished second, the audience cheered, and I saw the Vietnamese national flag held high across the stands. At that time I was very happy, I felt that the national spirit at that time was even more precious than the medal,” Tung said.
The Rio Paralympics 2016 was an unforgettable milestone in Tung’s life so he named his first son Rio to always remember that special moment.
Tung has competed as a professional athlete since 2005 and at the national championship in the same year, he won two golds and one silver.
In 2009, Tung was called up to the national swimming team, starting a new journey with lots of glory and many challenges.
Tung won one gold and one silver at the Asian Para Games 2010. Four years later, he bagged five golds and set two records at the Asian Para Games in 2014.
After the silver medal at the Rio Paralympics in 2016, Tung dominated the continent's short swimming races with three more gold medals and two silver medals at the Asian Para Games 2018, breaking three Asian records in the 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle.
In the World Para Swimming Championships 2017 in Mexico, Tung brought home the bronze in the 100m freestyle. He also won the bronze in the 50m freestyle in the world championships in Scotland in 2015.
At the ASEAN Para Games, Tung took yet more golds for Vietnam. At the ninth ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia in 2017, he brought home three gold medals and broke two Southeast Asian records.
|Swimmer Vo Thanh Tung (middle) seen at the ceremony to honour outstanding athletes, coaches, and disabled athletes and coaches for disabled athletes hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Vietnam Sports Administration in March this year. Photo courtesy of Vo Thanh Tung|
At the age of six, Tung suffered from polio, leaving him in a wheelchair.
Sports officials in An Giang Province soon saw Tung’s talent for swimming after he learned to love water by swimming, diving and fishing to help his family.
From that river region, with his determination, Tung has gone on to compete in world and continental events, bringing glory to Vietnamese sport.
Runner Nguyen Thi Oanh has been honoured as Vietnam's top athlete of 2019 thanks to her outstanding performances at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines.