HA NOI — Nguyen Thi Lua became the first Vietnamese wrestler to book a berth at the London Olympics this summer after winning a silver medal at an Asian qualification tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Sunday.
|London bound: Hanoian Nguyen Thi Lua (above) secures a Vietnamese wrestling birth at the London Olympics this summer. — VNS Photo Ngoc Truong
Lua, 20, qualified for the Games by reaching the final of the women's 48kg category, despite eventually losing out to South Korea's Kim Hyung-joo.
Lua, who won the country's first Asian Games wrestling medal in 28 years, entered the finals after defeating Chov Sotheara from Cambodia and Nurmatova Mikhrniso from Kyrgyzstan 11-0 and 5-1 in the quarter-final and semi-finals.
The Quoc Oai District-born girl developed a passion for wrestling when she was just a little girl. She won her first bronze medal in the women's 46kg at the national youth championships only one year after turning professional.
Two years later, she continued to excel by collecting a gold and a silver medal at the national tournament. In her first overseas competition, she brought home a bronze medal from the Asian Youth Championships in Chinese Taipei in 2007, and repeated her achievement two years later.
Lua's teammates Tran Thi Dieu Ninh (59kg) and Luong Thi Quyen (63kg) missed the chance to progress at the tournament in Kazakhstan.
So far, nine Vietnamese athletes have won tickets to London including Phan Thi Ha Thanh and Pham Phuoc Hung (gymnastics), Le Huynh Chau and Chu Hoang Dieu Linh (taekwondo), Van Ngoc Tu (judo), Hoang Xuan Vinh and Pham Hoang Ngoc (shooting), Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc (athletics), and Lua (wrestling). — VNS