Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Lê Văn Công nearly burst into tears after his three-in-one at the ongoing Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the morning of September 9, Hà Nội time.
The Vietnamese powerlifter won a gold medal and broke the world and the Paralympic records lifting 181 and then 183kg.
The medal is a historic one for Việt Nam. The country has participated five times in these games for "super-humans", which take place once every four years.
Like in the Olympics, the Vietnamese delegation won the title, with their leading athlete setting the record on the first day of the tournament.
Công was expected to bring home a gold medal as he is among the best athletes with disabilities, in general, and in powerlifting, in particular.
The 32-year-old performed even better than expectations.
Initially, things did not go smoothly for the lifter, although his key rival and defending champion Yakubu Adesokan of Nigeria withdrew because of an injury in the men’s up-to-49kg category.
Công was in a one-two competition with Jordan’s Omar Qarada, with seven other athletes also competing.
The Vietnamese was made to work extremely hard with Qarada applying plenty of pressure.
Công broke the Paralympic record with his first attempt at 175kg, but Qarada snatched the lead and the record with a 177kg lift with his second attempt.
The pressure was then on Công as he failed in his second attempt of 179kg to stay in second place going into the final round.
However, he rose to the occasion in the final round with a successful 181kg effort to propel himself back into the lead and regain the Paralympic record.
Công then stayed in the warm-up room watching Qarada’s performance on the TV screen.
Qarada also tried to lift 181kg in his third attempt. If he succeeded, he would be crowned the winner as Qarada is 1kg lighter than Công.
However the Jordan athlete was unsuccessful and Việt Nam grabbed its first gold medal of the Paralympics.
Công excitedly boxed in the air to celebrate his victory before coming close to kiss the weight.
Công returned to the stage moments later to break his own world record of 182kg with a perfect lift of 183kg and was overcome with emotion as he did so.
Qarada settled for silver, while the bronze medal went to Hungarian Nandor Tunkel, who produced a lift of 155kg with his second attempt.
“I am really excited and happy with my gold. I cannot believe that I have made such a great job,” Công said in an interview to Việt Nam News.
“It was a tense tournament. Adesokan did not compete, but Qarada was really strong, and I had to use the spray to reduce my pain before stepping on the competition stage.
“Luckily, I am free from pressure at this Paralympics. I just tried to prove myself,” he said.
Công added that the gold medal would be a gift for his six-year-old son, who did not have his father sharing his happiness of the first day at school on September 5, due to the competition.
“He is the strong force behind my victory today,” he said about his number one fan, who always asked his father for a medal from every tournament.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện sent a letter congratulating Công and the Vietnamese team.
In his letter he praised Công for setting a new world and Paralympic record, which was a result of the hard work and training of the athlete and the coaches, as well as the strong effort at the competition.
Minister Thiện hoped that other Paralympians would be successful in the coming days of the Games.
The minister pledged to award VNĐ60 million to Công and VNĐ20 million to his coach Nguyễn Hồng Phúc.
Meanwhile, there was another Vietnamese athlete competing on the first day of competition.
Nguyễn Ngọc Hiệp ranked 11 in the men’s long jump T11 event with a result of 4.08m. Hiệp felt a pain in his leg during training and was unable to perform to his potential.
At the end of the first day, Việt Nam are at the 16th spot with one gold. China are on top with seven gold, nine silver and four bronze medals. Great Britain and Uzbekistan are second and third, respectively.
On the second day, lifter Nguyễn Bình An will take part in the men’s 54kg category and swimmer Trịnh Thị Bích Như will participate in the women’s 50m butterfly qualification. — VNS