Tuesday, June 27 2017

VietNamNews

Billiards player smiles his way along

Update: June, 03/2017 - 09:00
Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện seen in a recent international competition. — Photo courtesy of Nguyện
Viet Nam News

Top billiards player Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện was a late starter.

He began playing the game when he was already thirty years old.

His trick is to smile while playing the game, even when he is losing.

This keeps his mind right.

He says that is important in the sport of billiards.

Vietnamese cueist Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện, 35, started participating in professional billiards tournaments when he was close to 30, but despite the late start, he has made his mark internationally.

Nguyện vaulted on to the world stage and cemented his reputation in three-cushion billiards by winning the recent 2017 Asian Federation Championship in South Korea. He won two bronze medals in World Cup in 2014 and 2016, brought home a silver in an Asian event in 2013 and a gold in the Southeast Asian Games in 2011, besides bagging the top slot in several national tournaments. 

Nguyện’s standing has risen to the 13th position in the World Billiards Union. Here, Thanh Nga talks to Nguyện about his career, achievements and goals. Excerpts from the interview:

You’ve had many international successes, and your recent Asian championship win has put you among the world’s top 15 players. It is also the second time a Vietnamese cueist has won an Asian event after Dương Anh Vũ’s victory in 2008. How do you feel?

It was a wonderful feeling when I took the title of the Asian championship, which had  many strong rivals, especially from South Korea. It has been a great advance in my career. However, I was not too surprised with this result as it was within my reach.

Are you expressive when you are playing?

I am natural and effervescent. Only by being like that can I feel comfortable and play better. I often smile when I play, even when my opponent has the lead. The score does not change whether I laugh or feel unhappy, so why not give my rival a smile? Maybe people will think I’m funny to hold that point of view. But it keeps me emotionally stable, which is very important in billiards. During tough contests, psychology is my main strength, alongside my skills.

What are the benefits and challenges of being a professional sportsman?

I have enjoyed a lot of advantages training and competing as the HCM City Sports Department has sponsored all my expenses to play at international tournaments in order to hone my skills and gain experience. Besides, my monthly salary and bonus are good, enough to support my life.

What destiny brought you to billiards?

I was born in Pleiku City in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. I have loved sports since I was a small boy. I began playing billiards when I was eight at a local club on two small tables. I came to HCM City to study in the Polytechnic University’s electronic department when I was 18. I took six years instead of the normal four years to complete the course because I liked playing billiards more than studying.

The world of professional competition really opened to me after I won the HCM City championship in 2009. I was called to the municipal billiards team in 2010, and a year later, I was a member of the national team. Then suddenly, I beat veteran Vũ in the final match and bagged the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in 2011. It was the first international medal of my career. After that, I won many medals in both international and domestic tournaments.

How do you explain this marvellous winning streak?

It is destiny and luck. Many players are better than I am, but I still win in most events I participate. Playing billiards is my passion. They say, a man chooses his career, but in my case, it’s the career that has chosen me. My mathematical aptitude also helps me approach billiards more easily.

What quality helps players become outstanding athletes?

You must be passionate, train hard, and be flexible during competitions. And lucky.

Who is your idol?

World No 2 Daniel Sanchez of Spain. Though he is among the top players in the world, he is modest and friendly. He is my teacher and my friend.

What is your next goal?

I will maintain my competition fitness, especially for the ongoing Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup in HCM City, which has attracted 132 participants from 16 nations. — VNS


 

GLOSSARY

Vietnamese cueist Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện, 35, started participating in professional billiards tournaments when he was close to 30, but despite the late start, he has made his mark internationally.

Participating means taking part.

Professional tournaments are played by people who perform sports to earn their money rather than as a hobby.

Tournaments are sports competitions.

Nguyện vaulted on to the world stage and cemented his reputation in three-cushion billiards by winning the recent 2017 Asian Federation Championship in South Korea.

Vaulted on to the world stage” means “very suddenly became one of the top competitors in the world”.

Your reputation is what other people think of you. To cement your reputation means to make sure that people do not change their opinion of you. In other words their thinking is as firm as cement that holds bricks together. 

He won two bronze medals in World Cup in 2014 and 2016, brought home a silver in an Asian event in 2013 and a gold in the Southeast Asian Games in 2011, besides bagging the top slot in several national tournaments. 

Bagging the top slot” means “earning the winning place”

Excerpts from the interview:

Excerpts from an interview are pieces from an interview.

It was a wonderful feeling when I took the title of the Asian championship, which had many strong rivals, especially from South Korea.

Rivals are people you are up against in competitions.

I am natural and effervescent.

Effervescent means enthusiastic.

Only by being like that can I feel comfortable and play better. I often smile when I play, even when my opponent has the lead.

Your opponent is someone you play against in a sport.

But it keeps me emotionally stable, which is very important in billiards.

People who are emotionally stable do not experience their emotions going up and down.

During tough contests, psychology is my main strength, alongside my skills.

Psychology is the study of human behaviour.

What are the benefits and challenges of being a professional sportsman?

Benefits are things that work in your favour and help you along.

Challenges are difficult things you have to get around.

I have enjoyed a lot of advantages training and competing as the HCM City Sports Department has sponsored all my expenses to play at international tournaments in order to hone my skills and gain experience.

Advantages are benefits.

To hone your skills means to sharpen them.

 What destiny brought you to billiards?

Your destiny is where you are heading in life.

I was called to the municipal billiards team in 2010, and a year later, I was a member of the national team.

Municipal means to do with a city.

Then suddenly, I beat veteran Vũ in the final match and bagged the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in 2011.

A veteran is someone who is good at something and has lots of experience.

Final means last.

After that, I won many medals in both international and domestic tournaments.

Domestic tournaments are those held within the country.

Playing billiards is my passion.

A passion is something you love so much that you do not worry how much time or money you spend on it.

My mathematical aptitude also helps me approach billiards more easily.

Aptitude means a natural ability to do something.

You must be passionate, train hard, and be flexible during competitions.

If you are flexible you are willing to change the way you do things rather than thinking it is important to stick to only one way of doing them.

Who is your idol?

An idol is a hero

Though he is among the top players in the world, he is modest and friendly.

People who are modest don’t go around boasting about themselves but instead are quiet about their achievement.

What is your next goal?

Your goal is what you are aiming to achieve in life.

I will maintain my competition fitness, especially for the ongoing Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup in HCM City, which has attracted 132 participants from 16 nations.

Maintain” means “keep up”

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. What Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện loved as a small boy.
  2. The country in which the Southeast Asian Games were held in 2011.
  3. Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện’s idol’s home country.
  4. A word that describes the altitude in Gia Lai province.
  5. The opposite of happy.

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Sports; 2. Indonesia; 3. Spain; 4. Highland; 5. Unhappy.

 

 

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