|Hoàng Thị Ngọc poses with her gold medal and mascot won at the 30th SEA Games' women's 4x400m event in 2019 in the Philippines. Photo svvn.tienphong.vn|
HÀ NỘI Running is tough. Running as a pro and studying for a master's degree at the same time is even tougher.
But try telling that to Hoàng Thị Ngọc, who is both a SEA Games champion and has a master's degree in pedagogy.
Born in 1995 in Quảng Bình Province, Ngọc dominated her local track and field tournaments for students in the 200m and 400m.
Scouts invited her to the provincial sports training centre for intensive practice and Ngọc left home for an athletic career when she was 14 years old.
Time flew fast and the hard-working girl was selected for the national junior team in 2014 and won a bronze in the Asian Youth Athletics Championship’s 400m in Taiwan.
A year later she enjoyed her first professional medal after she finished second in the national championship’s 400m event in 2015, Quảng Bình’s best ever result.
Her small stature was a not problem for her coaches who saw her remarkable endurance, passion and potential, making her suited for relay races. They decided to give her a berth in the national team.
Ngọc was a substitute member at the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games but in the latter two editions, she secured a slot in the first team.
“My first SEA Games title was incredible. It was my first time competing in such a big tournament and I won. I was really happy. It was a strong push for me to work harder for the next one,” Ngọc said about the 2017 Games.
The 2019 Games saw Ngọc and her teammates successfully defend their title in the 4x400m.
She also earned titles from the ASEAN University Games and Asian Athletics Championship in 2017 and a bronze from the Asian Games in 2018.
She received Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s certificates of merit in 2018 and 2019.
Despite her busy training schedule, Ngọc still managed to find the time to study for her undergraduate degree in physical education. After graduating with an outstanding result, Ngọc decided to go for her master's degree.
“I am in long-term training at the Hà Nội’s National Sports Training Centre 1 which is not far from the College of Physical Education and Sports 1. So I thought I could arrange the time to study for a master's degree in my free time in the weekend,” said Ngọc, who began her course in 2018.
“At that time I was 23 and the youngest student in the class. It was not easy in the first weeks because I always had to do the most exercise on Saturday. I was exhausted after practice and I just wanted to relax. I had to go have a strong will to go to school,” said Ngọc who paid her tuition fees with the prize money she won from tournaments.
“I plan to become a trainer in my province after retirement. So, I chose pedagogy. The income that I saved for years was used for my studies which will strongly support my later career and life after I'm no longer competing. I think that investment for education is always a smart choice,” she said.
|Hoàng Thị Ngọc seen on a day that she received her master's degree of pedagogy in January 2021. Photo svvn.tienphong.vn|
After two years, Ngọc, the only athlete in the class, graduated early this year and is one of the only professional runners with a master's degree in Việt Nam.
Trần Thị Yến Hoa, the former SEA Games 100m hurdle champion, was the first as she received her degree in 2018. Hoa retired in 2019 and now works as a coach in Thừa Thiên Huế Province.
“My degree and knowledge leant from the course and during my tournament will help me a lot when I work as a coach in the future. I really want to produce good athletes for Quảng Bình and Việt Nam in general,” the 26-year-old Ngọc said.
“But it is a plan for the future. I am now focusing on the coming SEA Games. I will have to work hard to make sure of my berth in the national team first and then defend my title when the Games is on home turf,” she added. VNS