|Coach Vũ Ngọc Lợi (right) and his runner Nguyễn Thị Huyền celebrate their SEA Games win last December in the Philippines. Photo webthethao.vn|
HÀ NỘI Vũ Ngọc Lợi is well known in athletics and as one of the most experienced coaches in Việt Nam helped turn many athletes into international winners and potential champions during his reign of more than 30 years.
Last year was surely one of the best for the 59-year-old after his runners succeeded at the Southeast Asian Games and received numerous Asian titles.
At the Philippines Games last December, his athletes won the men’s and women’s 4x400m titles after the 400m mixed relay team triumphed and set a record at the biennial Games.
Nguyễn Thị Huyền secured a double in the women’s 400m and 400m hurdle and Đinh Thị Bích topped the womens 800m, all in their Games debut.
Earlier, rising star Quách Thị Lan shone to win a gold in the women’s 400m hurdles at the Asian championship in April. She continued her success winning two golds in the 400m and 400m hurdles at the Asian Grand Prix in June.
Born in 1960 in Nam Định Province, Lợi kept his eyes on athletics when he won a gold in a national school games at the age of 15.
In 1980, when Lợi was a second-year student of the University of Physical Education and Sports in Bắc Ninh Province he earned his chance to study at the National University of Physical Education and Sport of Ukraine which offered him great knowledge and experience for his future career.
However, it was not easy to apply what Lợi had learned from abroad when he was back in Việt Nam because of the difference of infrastructure and athletes’ form and physique between two countries.
But he still made his mark in all the local teams where he worked with such as the Military, Thừa Thiên-Huế and Nam Định and the national team with his typical and special exercises which could help his athletes complete their training with the best results possible.
The trainer, who faced death after 10 surgeries since 2001 to 2003 due to an infection after a gallbladder cut, started to harvest good ‘feedback’ from his athletes in international competitions since 2015.
It was the 28th SEA Games in Singapore where his runner Dương Văn Thái won two golds in the men’s 800m and 1500m before Nguyễn Thị Huyền made it hat-trick of golds in the women’s 400m, 400m hurdle and 4x400m together with two Games’ records. Huyền also secured two slots to take part in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In 2017, Huyền secured one gold and one silver in the Asian championships. She then won three golds at the 29th Games while teammate Trần Thị Yến Hoa won twice in the 100m hurdles and 4x100m.
At the same time, Lợi made potential athlete Quách Thị Lan a new star after she grabbed two national championship golds in the 400m (55.74sec) and 400m hurdles (55.30sec), setting two national records. She became the first Vietnamese female runner to beat the 56 second mark in the hurdles.
She later won two golds at the Taipei Open before coming second in the 2018 Asian Games’ 400m hurdles. But months later, Lan was presented the gold after the winner Kemi Adekoya of Bahrain was tested positive for drugs.
This has been the first Asian Games’ title of Việt Nam’s athletics so far.
“He is a strict coach but really cares about his athletes. After training, he is like a father to us,” Huyền said about her coach during their time together in Nam Định.
“He is a strong force that we all looked upon to strive harder in both practicing and competing.”
Huyền who is training with Lợi for the chance at the Olympics this year, believed that her coach was worthy to be classed as one of the best after his great contribution for sport and athletics.
“I believe that success comes from passion. If you are in love with something you will dedicate everything to it. When you do your best, you world receive sweet results,” said Lợi.
“I have experienced ups and downs in my career but presently I do find happiness with my choice. My fellow athletes have done well in international competitions. We have the chance to compete in elite events such as the Asian Games and Olympics and also receive people’s recognition.
“These are great goals for me to work happily and strive for more glory.” VNS