Thach Kim Tuan, who recently became the country's first weightlifter to win a world-level gold medal, spoke with Thanh Nga.
Young weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan won one gold medal in the snatch category and two silver medals in the clean and jerk and total lift in the men's 56kg category during the World Weightlifting Championships 2014 held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from November 8-16.
He made history by becoming the first athlete to bring home a gold medal from the world level weightlifting competition. Under 20 years of age, he also made two more world junior records – 135kg in snatch and 293kg in total lift – both accomplishments confirmed by the World Weightlifting Federation.
Inner Sanctum: Were you surprised by your achievements in the recently concluded World Weightlifting Championships 2014 held in Almaty, Kazakhstan?
I was not too surprised because my coach and I carefully worked towards achieving those results. However, I was very happy because I overcame two Chinese rivals to give my country its first world gold medal for weightlifting.
Inner Sanctum: Were you afraid of facing Om Yun Chol of North Korea who won two golds in this event?
Yes, of course. Om is the defending Olympic champion and also the 2012-2013 world champion. However, I learned many lessons after losing to him three times in 2012 and 2013. Therefore, I came to this year's competition with more confidence in my abilities compared to our previous jousts. I focused more on the snatch event and succeeded to lift 135kg. This put me safely ahead of Om who had touched 128kg. However, I committed errors that caused me several seconds during the clean and jerk event. This resulted in my first attempt failing, letting Om catching up with my score.
Inner Sanctum: What is the most meaningful implication of this achievement?
Now, I feel comfortable and confident to face my tough rivals from China, North Korea, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria.
Inner Sanctum: Did you encounter difficulties and challenges during your training and during the competition?
My most difficult struggle was in maintaining my weight, which should not exceed 59.30kg. Maintaining this target weight was necessary for me to qualify to compete in the clean and jerk category. However, I am fortunate to have coach Huynh Huu Chi by my side. He constantly reminded me of my goals and formulated training programmes suitable for me.
Inner Sanctum: What is the most memorable moment in your career?
I have always been extremely pleased with the gold medals I won during the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore. I have also been very proud of my achievements during the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, where I broke two records.
Inner Sanctum: Did you receive any support during your training and the competition?
I received support from my training board and teammates. The weightlifting section of the National Sports Administration and HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism also reposed their confidence in my skills. I received support from Phu Tho Gymnasium's leaders, while the HCM City's Communist Youth Union provided me with financial assistance.
Inner Sanctum: How did you gain interest in weightlifting? What quality do you think helped you become an outstanding athlete?
I was unexpectedly introduced to coach Chi by my next-door neighbour, Nguyen Duc Thang, in 2006. Our meeting eventually paved the way to my selection as one of the members of HCM City's weightlifting team and the national team. My first international achievement was winning a silver medal in the 2011 World Junior Weightlifting Championships in Penang, Malaysia.
I believe in working hard during training and striving to overcome my weak points in every event. This helped me become a good athlete.
Inner Sanctum: Can you share something about your life?
As you know, my mother died when I was very young. My siblings and I left our hometown of Binh Thuan Province for HCM City in 1997 to look for a living. I decided to join the city's weightlifting team with the simple thought that boosting my athleticism may help me earn more money. This proved to be a good decision as I managed to succeed in my endeavours with the team. Consequently, my life and my siblings' lives improved.
Although I am required to train all day, still I arranged to enrol in a high school programme again. I bought a 30sq.m house in HCM City, where my four siblings are currently residing. My father still lives in his native place of Binh Thuan.
I want to express my gratitude to coach Chi. He has always encouraged me to overcome any obstacle, as well as admonished me when I think of succumbing to my weaknesses. He has served as my guide in both my personal and professional life. I consider him as my second father.
Inner Sanctum: What is your next goal? Do you believe in your ability to win in the Olympic Rio 2016?
I aim to surpass my present achievements. I also want to participate and stand out at the Olympic Rio 2016. When I qualify for that event, I will try my best to accomplish the difficult task of defeating Om Yun Chol of North Korea. However, I will not belittle my Chinese rivals. — VNS