Nguyễn Thị Thật competes in a domestic cycling tournament. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thị Thật
Viet Nam News
by Thanh Nga
Nguyễn Thị Thật, “Queen of Vietnamese cycling” has marked 2018 by winning the country’s first-ever women’s Asian gold medal at the Asian Road & Para-Cycling Championships 2018 in Myanmar.
She overcame 26 rivals, including powerhouses from China, Japan and South Korea, to take first place in the women’s 106-km road race in February.
Thật, 25, from the southern province of An Giang, said the gold medal in Myanmar will be a driving force for her to take the gold in the upcoming Asian Games (ASIAD) 2018 to be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2.
With the aim of reaching her goal, Thật has refused many invitations to compete for foreign teams to focus on training for ASIAD.
“Many international clubs have offered me to play for them but I haven’t decided yet,” Thật told Việt Nam News.
Ngô Quốc Tiến, coach of the national team and the An Giang provincial cycling team, also confirmed with Việt Nam News that a professional cycling team from Italy invited Thật to compete for them but she refused in order to train in Switzerland to prepare for the Games in Indonesia.
“I am very glad to seize the first Asian gold medal for Vietnamese women’s cycling. I had this result thanks to my training board, leaders and sponsors during past years,” Thật said.
“I will aim to have a bigger achievement to satisfy everybody’s hope, especially in the upcoming event in Indonesia,” Thật said.
Nguyễn Thị Thật seen during her training session in Switzerland. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thị Thật
Labour of coach
Part of Thật’s success nowadays is thanks to the labour of coach Ngô Quốc Tiến, who was named the “King of Mountain” in Vietnamese cycling.
Ten years ago, Tiến found Thật’s talent when the latter was learning physical exercises in a seventh grade class in Tịnh Biên District in An Giang Province. He persuaded her family to allow her to compete for the junior team of the province; but her family didn’t agree, being afraid that it would be difficult for their daughter. Then coach Tiến asked the chief of Tịnh Biên District to persuade Thật’s family and at last, they agreed.
“At the age of 14, I became a cyclist. It was rather difficult as everything was new and I was far from home but Tiến helped me overcome difficulties,” Thật said.
“Thật had a sense of training as well. She trained with all her heart. She easily approached new techniques at training centres at home and abroad,” Tiến said.
According to the coach, besides her talent, Thật has passion and patience with the bike. If she continues to practise and compete in international events, she will show great advancement.
During her training in Switzerland, Thật took the yellow jersey of the Grand-Prix Crevoisier 2018 on March 26, which attracted professional riders from Europe.
The Vietnamese cyclist brought into play her strength, which is the sprint, to finish first in the women’s class with a timing of 1 hour and 55.35 minutes.
Her International Cycling Union’s coach, Alejandro Gonzalez Tablas, was pleased with her result, saying that after a long time he has been able to guide such a talented athlete.
Earlier, Thật finished second in the 16th Grand Prix of Chambéry in France.
Love for cycling
With a strong attachment to cycling, Thật has dominated most national events. She won two golds at the Southeast Asian Games last year and one silver at the Asian Games in 2014.
For her, the bike is a heart-to-heart friend.
“Bike is my life. It nourishes me and gives me pleasure. Maybe, I don’t need my boyfriend but the bike I must have,” Thật said.
“Thật rarely leaves her bike or neglects her training. I believe that if she maintains her thirst for winning at every event, she will have a strong progress in her career,” Tiến said.
Thật takes care of her bike every day after training and competing. Sometimes, she bares her heart to it.
“I feel sad whenever I have to change a new bicycle,” Thật said.
Efforts for younger sister
Thật’s success is a driving force for her younger sister, Nguyễn Thị Thà, when it comes to cycling.
Thật and Thà of the Gạo Hạt Ngọc Trời An Giang team intimidated many rivals in the national tournaments. The younger sister was a member of the national junior cycling team. Thà won a gold medal in the national event in 2010 and three gold medals in the national event one year later. She also competed in several international tournaments.
Unluckily, Thà had a serious injury in the National Sports Games in 2014. She suffered four broken ribs and a damaged kidney, while her liver and spleen were bruised. As a result, Thà had to retire at the age of 19 because of multiple injuries.
”Ever since my sister met with an accident, I have played with more than 100 per cent of my strength in every event. I compete for me and for Thà. I dedicate every victory to her,” Thật said. — VNS