Returning amateur athlete dreams of national team

December 04, 2022 - 07:42
At the age of 25, runner Vũ Đình Duân fulfilled his dream of being a national team member, representing Việt Nam in international competitions and on a beautiful day, waved a flag as the winner.


Vũ Đình Duân (2nd, left) tops the men's Aquaman Vietnam event held in Quảng Ninh Province in October. VNA/VNS Photo

Thanh Hà

It is never too late to follow your dream.

At the age of 25, runner Vũ Đình Duân fulfilled his dream of being a national team member, representing Việt Nam in international competitions and on a beautiful day, waved a flag as the winner.

Broken heart

Born in 1997 in a family in Uông Bí City, Quảng Ninh Province, Duân started his athletic life when he was 15 years old.

With his potential in athletics showing through school competitions, he was recruited into the Military team when he was a 10th grader.

"Actually, I had no idea of athletics at that time. But they promised me that I would become a state worker, so my parents agreed to let me join the military," Duân told Việt Nam News.

Living and practising in the army environment, he was under a strict discipline schedule, which brought him decent results. However, injuries forced him to retire at age 19 in 2016.

Vũ Đình Duân crosses the finish line of the 31st SEA Games' amateur marathon event in May in Hà Nội. — PHOTO

"It was a big regret as my results were good then. Four years is not very long, but my heart was broken when making that decision."

Returning home, Duân worked as a driver, but running was still in his heart, and he constantly desired to run again.

"I could not stay still when seeing my former teammates keep running. At the same time, the running movement was growing up everywhere. One of my friends dragged me out of home, and we started running together," he said.

"It has been about two years since I returned to the track. I competed in a local tournament in November 2020. I ran 10km in 42 minutes, a good time that marked my return."

A turning point came when Duân moved to HCM City to work for a sports gear shop. Duân felt like fish in water and met with friends and coaches who encouraged and urged him to run professionally.

"I was lucky to have such people by my side. They were members of the Việt Nam Triathlon Federation. Coach Phạm Thúy Vi guided me and inspired me to practise professionally. Vi pushed me to train to vie for a slot for the coming SEA Games [in Cambodia]," Duân said.

The young man soon made his name well-known, winning prizes in most tournaments he participated in.

Duân was among 243 of the best amateur national athletes picked to run with elite runners in the 31st SEA Games in May.

It was the first time the Games organisers allowed a category for amateurs to race in the same route as the elite competitors.

Duân finished first with a time of 2:47.56.

Vũ Đình Duân runs in the Aquaman Vietnam. He expects to be a national athlete for the 32nd SEA Games to be held in Cambodia in May. — PHOTO Aquaman Vietnam

Two months later, he triumphed at the National Aquathlon Clubs Championship in HCM City. He swam 1km and ran 5km in 34.41min.

In October, Duân won the first Aquaman Vietnam, the first international standard event of Việt Nam, which saw more than 1,000 competitors.

He swam 2km and ran 21km in 1:59.24. His strong sprint to the finish helped him pass his strongest rival -- national walking champion Võ Xuân Vĩnh -- in the last few metres. The performance was praised in many running forums.

"That moment, I ran with all my energy left in me. I did not feel tired at all but just wanted to run faster to cross the line first," recalled Duân, who spent three months intensively improving his swimming skills with coach Vi, a former national swimmer.

Last weekend, Duân again topped the VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight podium, a significant running event gathering more than 10,000 participants.

Dreaming again

"After winning the Aquaman and now the Midnight marathon, I am confident in myself, seeing that my results have been going up quite well. It will be a strong push for me to compete in the on-going National Sports Games," Duân said.

"I will have to prepare my best for this important tournament. A strong result will help me complete my target of earning a berth in the national team for the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia. It is my dream; I want to have an opportunity to compete in the largest regional sports competition."

Vũ Đình Duân runs to win the full marathon event at the Vnexpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight on November 27. — PHOTO

To earn one of two slots, apart from performing well at the December National Sports Games, he must overcome strong rivals who are already national team athletes.

"I will have to practise harder to narrow the gap between me and the top athletes, which is in seconds. I think I will give more time for training. It should be 60 per cent training and 40 per cent working to make money for training," he said.

"I am happy with aquathlon and feel confident of winning this sport."

After the National Sports Games, Duân will join a group of 10 marathoners to run through Việt Nam to raise funds for surgeries for poor children born with cleft palates.

"Our "Hành Trình Xuyên Việt" (Journey through Việt Nam) will begin on January 1, 2023, starting from Hà Giang to Cà Mau Province in 10 days. Members will rotate to run 10km one by one throughout the trip," Duân said.

"The journey will bring us a unique experience running in different localities, enjoying nature landscapes, and meeting many friends. It is also an exercise to improve my fitness and endurance for my running career. It is a meaningful charity activity, and I am lucky to be part of the journey." VNS