Weightlifter Hoàng Thị Duyên is one of Việt Nam's medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics. The 2020 World Cup winner is expected to enter the top three in the women's 59kg category. The 25-year-old will be the first Vietnamese female weightlifter with an Olympic medal if she succeeds.
Inner Sanctum: How have you prepared for the Olympics in terms of physique and spirit?
I have been doing well for everything, especially my physical strength. I am in a good mood and feel pretty good and comfortable ahead of my competition.
I have been doing my best and have strong determination for my Olympic debut. I expect that I might create a miracle at the huge event that is this Olympics.
Inner Sanctum: After returning home from a successful qualification, you and your teammates were quarantined for nearly a month and a half. Did it affect your physique and performance?
Our quarantine was doubled because the day we left there was a positive case discovered in our building. So, we had to do a second period.
The unexpectedly long quarantine strongly affected the practice plan that our coaches and athletes had made. However, my teammates and I had to adapt to the new situation.
As athletes we have a diet of typical nutrition. But in the quarantine area, we had no such priority and had to accept it. During that time, we had to carry out daily workouts including active movements for our arms and legs. There were simple moves like push-ups, squats and headstands, or difficult ones as carrying a teammate on our back while doing squats. These exercises helped maintain my muscle strength.
Our barbells were sent in for us during the last two weeks. But after a month of training with empty hands we could not just do heavy activities but were familiar with new routines.
Inner Sanctum: It is said that you are in trouble with a painful knee. Is this a big problem?
Yes, I am suffering a knee injury. I came back to Hà Nội's training centre on June 3 and immediately practised. It was really difficult to get my normal physique, as well as the feeling and rhythm of intensive training back within one month. My knee injury recurred because I worked too much after the quarantine all at once, and I rushed to find my form.
The injury partly affects my practice, and I worry about it a little bit.
If the Olympics were pushed back two weeks, I would totally recover and be 100 per cent ready. But I hope on the day of competition, I will be okay and my performance will be good.
Inner Sanctum: Are you suffering from any pressure in the build up to your first Olympics?
Having a chance to take part in a big event like the Olympics is a great honour. I am really happy to be taking this opportunity. Of course, the nervousness and worries are obvious. Sometimes, I wonder if I can do well there. But then I think that it is a huge competition, which is gathering strong competitors from the whole world. It will never be easy. When competing on such a tough stage I should not create pressure for myself. I take it easy and entertain myself with movies and games – all good ways to refresh my worrying mind.
I understand people's expectations. But I have met many challenges during preparation for the Games, so I cannot promise anything. I can only ensure an iron mind and a good performance.
Inner Sanctum: Olympics 2020 will lure elite world athletes. Do you and your coaching board research your rivals? Who are the strongest ones hoping to get on the podium?
Yes, we do.
We research everything about them, from their practice and competing programmes and results, to their advantages and disadvantages.
In my 59kg category, Chinese Taipei's Kou Hsing-shun is the strongest. She is the world champion and at a higher level than me. Kou's personal best is 247kg which is 24kg better than mine. We pin her to the top position. My key rivals are Andoh Mikiko for the hosts and Escobar Guerrero of Ecuador. I am vying for medals against them.
Inner Sanctum: At Việt Nam's send-off ceremony, you witnessed your senior athlete Trần Lê Quốc Toàn receive his London 2012 bronze medal. It was Việt Nam's second Olympic weightlifting medal. Have you set a target to be the next to bring home glory?
At the Olympics, I just want to do my best. I will try hard, flagging up Việt Nam's spirit and determination on the world stage.
I believe that if I follow well what the coaches have planned and I have aimed for, I will definitely win a medal. I will prove that I am at the Olympics for a reason, and that I am worthy of representing Việt Nam in Tokyo. VNS
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