Weightlifter Vinh to be back better and stronger

August 27, 2022 - 08:51
Vinh could not win a gold medal because he took part in the event as a test only. Vinh has been banned globally for four years because of a doping violation.


Weightlifter Trịnh Văn Vinh will get out of his global ban to compete again next March. The 'Việt Nam Hercules' has prepared well for his comeback, aiming for gold at the 2023 Asian Games. AFP/VNA Photo

Thanh Hà

HÀ NỘI — Trịnh Văn Vinh rubbed his hands with chalk powder, took a deep breath and stepped on the stage.

He carefully prepared himself for this weight. Making a loud shout, he lifted 130kg in the snatch event. He repeated the same actions to make 170kg in the clean and jerk.

A total of 300kg was the best result in the men's 61kg category at the National Weightlifting Clubs Cup which is ongoing in Hà Nội. It was only 2kg less than the Tokyo Olympics' silver medal result.

Vinh could not win a gold medal because he took part in the event as a test only. Vinh has been banned globally for four years because of a doping violation.

The 27-year-old athlete has been called back to the national team recently and he will serve the last seven-months ban under the support of his second 'family'.

When Vinh's sporting life resumes, he has promised to make it better than it ever was before.

Road to victories

When he was a child, Vinh saw a clip of Vietnamese Hoàng Anh Tuấn's silver-medal performance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The 13-year-old from Bắc Ninh Province's Quế Võ District was extremely excited and joined the weightlifting community.

"Eight years practising but I did not get as good results as I wanted," he said.

"It made me think about going home. But, coaches encouraged me, recalling my dreams of being the second Hoàng Anh Tuấn of Việt Nam."

Trịnh Văn Vinh of Việt Nam competes in the men's 62kg weightlifting event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018. Vinh bags a silver medal. AFP/VNA Photo

Despite a slow start, Vinh won one gold and one silver in the men's 56kg category at the Asian Championship in 2016.

At the 29th SEA Games a year later, Vinh made a bang taking gold in the 62kg class, leaving Olympic silver medallist Eko Yuli Irawan of Indonesia behind. His total result of 307kg, a new Games record.

“Irawan was really a big rival. However, my focus and determination helped me to win," recalled the man they call 'Việt Nam Hercules'.

Head of the weightlifting team Đỗ Đình Kháng admitted: "It was a great and surprising achievement for Vietnamese weightlifting."

Vinh continued his amazing performance in 2017 with a gold and a silver at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and a gold in the world championship.

In 2018, he secured a silver at the 18th Asian Games (ASIAD) in Indonesia, blaming a back injury two weeks prior to the tournament that prevented him from performing his best and grabbing a gold.

"Vinh proved a potential and talented athlete. He was strong and competitive. We believed in his success at the 2020 Olympics," coach Kháng recalled.

Unimaginable nightmare

But in September 2019, Vinh was handed a four-year after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and at least one forbidden anabolic agent. He was not allowed to compete locally and internationally until the end of February 2023.

The decorated weightlifter said he took medicines for his back pain without asking the team's coaches and doctors. He did not remember what the medicine was and did not know if it included forbidden agents.

The ban ended Vinh's and Việt Nam's hope of ASIAD and Olympics gold.

Trịnh Văn Vinh (left) meets with Eko Yuli Irawan at the May's 31st SEA Games in Hà Nội. Photo from Trịnh Văn Vinh Facebook

"I was shocked with the heavy ban which was should have brought my career to an end," said Vinh.

"But again, it was family and coaches staying by my side, comforting and encouraging me. In those years, I kept practising to maintain my technique and fitness while supporting coaches in training activities.

"Honestly, I felt tired and bored sometimes because of the four-year nightmare. But, then, I pushed myself up and was back on my path."

Vinh said he lost many things including his honour and many tournaments but he also earned a lot, like a BA degree in sport management during that time.

"I had time to review myself," he said.

"I set up my own programme with suitable training, nutrition and good living habits as well as learned how to avoid unexpected doping violations.

"Returning to the national team after three years is wonderful. I am excited to see my teammates' hard work and can't wait to join them and take part in competitions. I am back to make my dreams come true." said Vinh who will be free to compete from next March.

Trịnh Văn Vinh changed his training routine to make sure he is at his best after the ban ends. Photo from Trịnh Văn Vinh Facebook

"I always target the highest podium in all tournaments. The Hangzhou ASIAD will be the key event for me as I want gold," said Vinh who also aims further to the 2024 Paris Olympics victory.

"I am under no pressure at all. I strongly believe in myself. At 27, I can comfortably make my dreams come true. I can even do a good job in the next several years and another Olympics," he said. VNS