Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Thị Lụa, the No 5 female wrestler in the 48kg category at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships, has made history by becoming the first Vietnamese female wrestler to qualify for the Olympics twice in different categories after she reached the finals of the Asian qualifying event in Astana, Kazakhstan.
In the 53kg category, Lụa won two bouts to enter the final round and secured a berth in the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics. Bùi Quỳnh Hoa reports.
Could you tell us a little about you?
I’m Nguyễn Thị Lụa, 25, a wrestler from the national wrestling team.
I love travelling and going to the cinema.
When you were younger and first decided to become a wrestler, why did you choose this difficult, stereotypically-masculine sport to pursue while other girls aimed to be pretty and gentle?
I came to wrestling very simply and naturally. When Nguyễn Đình Khinh, a former coach on Hà Tây Province’s wresting team, opened a wrestling class in my village, I decided to take part immediately, although I was only 12 at that time. I lied to my father and said that I had a private class outside of school, but in fact I went to Khinh’s wrestling class. There was no reason at all – I went just because I loved it.
And yes. Girls often want to be gentle and beautiful in others’ eyes, especially in men’s eyes. But I’m different. I was born into a village where everyone, from young to old, from men to women, all know and have a big passion for wrestling. I’m no exception. Anytime I followed my dad to watch wrestling matches, I wished I could be as strong and brave as they were. In my opinion, this is also a kind of beauty - a characteristic that should be respected.
You were born in Yên Nội Village in Hà Nội’s Quốc Oai District, which is known as the country’s wrestling hub. Your father and your uncle were also well-known wrestlers. Do you think your family’s tradition of wrestling planted a seed for your interest, and later your success in the sport?
Sure, the wrestling tradition of my village and my family has nurtured my passion for wresting since I was very little.
However, although they were well-known wrestlers in the district, my dad and my uncle had to give up the sport due to difficult circumstances. I was so sorry about that, and I tried my best to carry out their dream of becoming a champion in the international arena.
That fire and strong will has helped me achieve success in the sport.
What are your wrestling records so far?
My records so far include being ranked fifth among female wrestlers in the world in my weight class; earning a silver medal in the Asian Games, a gold medal in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship, a gold medal in the SEA Games, a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Wrestling Championship and a silver medal in the Asian Wrestling Championship; and qualifying for the Olympics twice in different categories.
You have never lost at a national wrestling event in the 48kg and 53kg categories. Many of your rivals withdrew when they saw your name on the list of participants. What do you think about this?
I think they should not be like that. Let’s play with all we have, concentrate and forget about winning or losing. If we lose, it’s a good chance for us to learn more from our weaknesses and mistakes and be better at future matches. This way, we will surely achieve success one day.
How do you feel about becoming the first ever Vietnamese female wrestler at age 25 to qualify for the Olympics twice in two different categories?
For Vietnamese athletes, simply qualifying for Olympics is the highest target to achieve during their career. I did it twice in two different categories: 48kg and 53kg.
I can’t find any suitable words to describe the joy, happiness and pride I experienced.
It was a big honour for me to let the world know more about Việt Nam’s wrestling. I’m so proud to be Vietnamese.
Could you talk about the difficulties you have faced in your career?
In the early days when I decided to pursue professional wrestling as a career, I faced strong opposition from my family. They thought that nobody would love a female wrestler. I think, in a way, they were right.
Wrestling has never been easy for women. Along with suffering from rough skin with scars and scrapes, numerous injuries and even losing love, I had to train very hard the whole time to get ready for competitions. I have no time for myself and my family. However, national duty is the most important task, and I will try my best, tirelessly.
A wrestler’s career is not too long, and talent and luck can only last for a short time span in their lives. If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you still take part in the sport?
If I had another chance, I would still pursue the same course.
You are right. An athlete’s life is very short with many injuries. I witnessed many people who were sporting heroes, but had to quit their passion due to serious injuries.
However, I have never regretted my choice. Wrestling is my passion and my whole life.
Success never comes easily. Sweet results only come from great efforts, and I will have to try harder and harder in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
I wish to become a wrestling coach.
I want to pass along all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained during my athletic life to the next generation. I want them to be better than I am and help Việt Nam’s wrestling scene shine brighter in the international arena. VNS