Phan Xuân Hành (first left) with the three other Vietnamese gold medal winners at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) 2022. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ TĨNH Chemistry was never the first love of 12th grader Phan Xuân Hành, but that hasn't held him back from winning gold at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) 2022.
Hành is a student at the Hà Tĩnh High School for the Gifted. He said that when he was an 8th grader at Hải Thượng Lãn Ông High School, he failed to become a member of the school's maths team for a provincial competition. Instead, he was summoned to the chemistry team.
"The more I explore the world of chemistry, the more I like it," Hành said, adding that chemistry now was his special passion.
At a provincial chemistry competition for 10th graders, Hành finished in second place, which made him more confident to apply for Hà Tĩnh High School for the Gifted.
He impressed his peers and the high school teachers by getting the highest score in the chemistry entrance exam.
Born and raised in Sơn Lâm Commune, in the mountainous Hương Sơn District of Hà Tĩnh province, Hành has always studied hard.
His parents are farmers, which helps them feed the family of four but leaves them with little time to support their children's studies.
Undeterred, Hành has always gotten good academic results at school.
Hành's father, Phan Sinh Quân, 51, said that even though they are farmers with a modest income, they try their best to facilitate their children's schooling.
When Hành was admitted to the gifted high school 70km away from his home though, they were very worried.
"We were partly concerned over tuition fees and daily expenses. Moreover, we were worried about what Hành could face when living far from home, especially bad enticements," Hành's mother Nguyễn Thị Trang said.
"At that time, Hành reassured and promised us that he would study and live well," Trang said, proudly adding that he kept his promise.
Entering the high school, Hành was cared for by teachers and school managers, who created conditions for him to develop his abilities.
"As soon as I entered the school, I set a goal to win the first prize in chemistry at the National Excellent Student Competition," he said.
During his three years at the high school, Hanh has always strived to achieve his goal.
"I think, first of all, to study well in any subject, I must have a love for that subject. I find chemistry to be a highly applicable subject in life and very interesting," he said.
"To understand chemistry better, I also do a lot of different exercises and afterwards, I draw experience for myself. In addition, I often define goals to orient myself to always strive for completion," Hành added.
With his passion and determination, Hành achieved impressive results during his time at high school time.
In the 11th grade, Hành was called to the province's chemistry team for a national competition and won the third prize.
When he was a 12th grader, he won the first prize in chemistry at the National Excellent Student Competition in 2022. He was the first contestant from Hà Tĩnh to win first prize in chemistry at a national competition.
As he realised his goal, he was very comfortable attending other competitions, including the international ones.
Talking about this year's international chemistry exam, Hành said that within five hours, he solved all the questions in the exam and had enough time to review his work.
"After re-checking the test, I was quite confident with my test. However, when I left the exam room and compared the results with my friends, I found that some of our answers were not the same, so I was quite worried," he said.
"The most nervous moment is waiting for the results to be announced. I did not have my name on the bronze and silver medals," he recalled.
"When the gold medal was announced, I nearly burst with joy. To top it off, all four of us in the chemistry team won the gold medals," he said.
Hành scored 94.33 out of 100 points at this year's International Chemistry Olympiad.
Hành's father Quân said that the whole family were delighted when they heard Hành's name at the online results ceremony.
"We put our trust in Hành. But we were still really surprised with the high result my son got. We are very proud of him," Quân said.
Đặng Đình Hảo, Hành's chemistry teacher and head of Hà Tĩnh High School's chemistry team, said that Hành is a student with solid knowledge and performance.
“Accompanying Hành for the past three years, I find that Hành is also industrious, hard-working and determined before all the goals that he sets.”
Hảo recalled that in the national exam in grade 11, Hành won third prize as he was a little nervous. However, in the grade 12 exam, Hành was determined to win the first prize and did.
“For me, when I accompany Hành, instead of pushing him to study, I usually ask him to go to bed early and stay healthy because he usually stays up late studying," Hảo said.
Hành studies until 3-4am and only sleeps for a few hours before going to school at 6am.
"It is that hard work and diligence that has brought Hành to an admirable achievement," Hảo said.
"When I heard he won the National First Prize in Chemistry and then the International Olympic Gold Medal, I was very happy but not too surprised because this result was completely worthy of his efforts and determination," Hảo said. VNS
All four members of the Vietnamese team that competed at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) 2022 won gold medals.
The winners were; Nguyễn Việt Phong, a 12th grader from Lê Hồng Phong High School for the Gifted in HCM City; Trần Đức Minh, a 12th grader from Biên Hòa High School for the Gifted in Hà Nam Province; Phan Xuân Hành, a 12th grader from Hà Tĩnh High School for the Gifted; and Phạm Nguyễn Minh Tuấn, an 11th grader from the High School for the Gifted of Natural Sciences under the University of Natural Sciences, Việt Nam National University, Hà Nội.
This is the second time that all Vietnamese members have won gold at the competition, after the first one in 2020. Last year, four Vietnamese students won three gold medals and one silver medal.
This year’s competition was from July 8 to July 18 and drew the participation of 326 students from 84 nations and territories.
This is the third year in a row that it was held online. The Vietnamese team competed from the Hà Nội National University of Education. VNS