|High jumper Bui Thi Thu Thao (left) poses with her Asian Games silver. She trains hard to make her dream come true. – Photo vnexpress.net
HA NOI (VNS) – Bui Thi Thu Thao was voted one of 10 Best Athletes of 2014 after she won a silver medal at October's Asian Games in South Korea.
Now, the long jumper dreams of winning a gold medal in the hope that it will change her life forever.
Born in 1992 in a poor family in the mountainous area of Ba Vi District, Ha Noi, Thao worked as a real farmer since she was young and had to sometimes even work as a brick maker and construction worker in the city.
The physically gruelling job helped Thao develop a good physique, which helped her strongly in all sporting competitions–swimming, high jumping and badminton—at school.
Her good performance results during Ha Tay Province's student tournament in 2006 helped her win a berth in the provincial squad, which received more intensive training and helped her become a professional athlete.
Three days later she quit because of homesickness and harsh training schedule. Thao decided to again become a construction worker to help her family.
Her father suffers from multiple ailments, which forces expensive hospital visits at least five to six times a year.
Her coaches only found out about Thao's family condition when they visited her house to persuade the family about her continued participation in the sport.
Thao only agreed when the coaches approved of her training for sports and studying at the same time for free. This would help her parents save some money for her siblings, she pointed out.
After years of hard work, Thao enjoyed her first taste of success in 2011 after winning a gold medal and setting a national youth record of 5.98 metres (m) during a long jump event at the national championships for juniors.
During the same year, she also grabbed a title in the national athletics championships and was chosen for the national team.
Life has never been easy for Thao, who suffered from some injuries that kept her from competing in any event from 2012 to 2013.
Despite being able to train only little to keep herself in shape, Thao easily won her second national title at the 2013 tournament before helping Viet Nam bag a bronze at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar.
However, her outstanding performance at the HCM City Open with a 6.46m jump did not earn her place in Viet Nam's delegation for the Asian Games in South Korea.
Some sports officials did not believe in her abilities and she was not included in the team until the deadline had passed.
Although she arrived in Incheon through a ‘wildcard' entry, Thao outshone the whole team by winning the silver medal for her 6.44m jump.
"It is a pity because if it hadn't been rainy and cold, I could have jumped 20 centimetres longer and could have won a gold medal," Thao recalled.
"I have heard that after winning a gold medal, I will automatically become a State official and will be awarded land to build a house. I missed the gold, meaning that my parents still have to struggle in life," she stated.
"Thao is a high jumper, but her height is not good enough at only 1.60m. However her drive is admirable. She works and trains very hard at the same time to help her family," said Nguyen Trong Ho, the head coach of the national athletics team.
"Her labours have brought her a valuable Asian Games silver for Viet Nam. Her achievement was unexpected," he noted.
Displaying her commitment, Thao was one of the last athletes to leave the National Sports Training Centre No 1 to go home for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.
She is training hard for a gold medal at the 28th SEA Games in Singapore in June and her determination is not only for the country's welfare, but also for all of her family.
During the last SEA Games held two year ago, Thao had stood third with a result of 6.14m, while Maria Natalia Londa of Indonesia won the gold with 6.39m. Londa had also beaten Thao at the Asian Games with a jump measuring 6.55m. – VNS