|Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà and her teammates with their gold medals. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà couldn't stop her tears after winning gold in the women’s regu (trio) seni (performance) event at the SEA Games 31.
This was an achievement 14 years in the making.
The trio of Vietnamese martial artists (Hà, Nguyễn Thị Huyền and Vương Thị Bình) performed perfectly in just three minutes on Wednesday, without any errors, to get 9,965 points for victory.
Việt Nam’s pencak silat has had many medals in performance events in regional, continental and world championships in the past decades, but for Hà, she had to wait for 14 years to enjoy a special moment of victory in the regional biggest sports event.
“I played as if I had nothing to lose because I just thought that I had to try my best to contribute to the audience when the Games are held at home. This is also the gold medal that I have been waiting 14 years for. For the first time, I have gained the gold medal in such a special atmosphere,” Hà said.
“In fact, at the SEA Games 2017, I, Huyền and Nguyễn Thị Thúy received gold medals four months after the end of the Games, because Thai athletes were doping so the gold medal went to Vietnamese,
"However, this victory is very different, very special for me because I was awarded the SEA Games gold medal at home after 14 years of hard work," Hà said. "Playing at home, despite the pressure, we have more confidence and determination. We thank our coaches for training and accompanying us in every event.”
|The team performing in the women’s trio event. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
Skill and spirit
After veteran martial artist Thúy retired from competition, Hà became the leading player in the women’s performance and took the responsibility of leading young athletes. In the matches at the Games 31, although she didn’t say it, she showed signs of psychological pressure, especially after her defeat in the final of the women's duo event which took place just before the final women’s trio event only 30 minutes.
But at the right moment, Hà’s skill and spirit were proved when she led her teammates to perform an emotional contest to take gold.
For Bình, the youngest player in the trio, this is her first SEA Games after being selected to replace senior Thúy.
“I have the least time to practise for the Games and also recently joined the team with Hà and Huyền to compete. They are the ones who guide and help me a lot. The performance was perfect thanks to their skill and spirit," Bình said.
According to coach Nguyễn Thanh Tùng, the athletes showed their great effort in the Games. The change in rules with knockout matches brought a lot of pressure and requires athletes to maintain stability to win gold.
“Hà performed her role well in the competition and the victory in the performance event relieved some of the pressure on the team’s goal before the combat events took place," Tùng said.
|Martial artist Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà (centre) surrounded by media after winning gold in the women’s trio performance event at the SEA Games 31. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
After winning the gold medal, Hà came to hug and kiss her family who had travelled long distances to cheer her on. She also thanked her father - who played an important role in her life and career.
Hà was born in a rural area in Bắc Giang Province. Her father, Nguyễn Văn Thảo, took her to martial arts from the seventh grade. Over the past 15 years, Hà has always considered martial arts an indispensable part of her life.
“Hà is my second daughter. When she trained in Hà Nội, she often took advantage of going home twice a month. Every time she came home, she was not afraid of any difficulties to do farming to help her parents. She loves her parents very much so she does everything to help us,” Thảo said.
“Perhaps this is the time when my family and I feel most honoured and proud when Hà’s efforts have been rewarded with one silver and one gold medal at the Games held at home. My family is very happy,” Thảo added.
Last year, Hà got married and thought about retiring. However, because of the desire to devote herself to the country's sports, she had to put aside her plans. VNS