World Champion triathlete performs more miracles

April 02, 2023 - 08:10
The "Journey 4.7 of cycling through Việt Nam" by Thanh Vũ carries an environmental message: Join hands to reduce, collect and recycle plastic waste. Her goal is to collect 47 tonnes of plastic waste.
Thanh Vũ seen in Quảng Ninh Province during her journey 4.7. — Photo courtesy of journey 4.7

Thanh Vũ is cycling across the country from Trà Cổ to Cape Cà Mau. The "Journey 4.7 of cycling through Việt Nam" carries an environmental message: Join hands to reduce, collect and recycle plastic waste. Her goal is to collect 47 tonnes of plastic waste. Thanh Nga speaks with the World Champion triathlete.

Inner Sanctum: You are a sports lover, passionate about exploring the limits of mankind through endurance challenges, and have conquered many roads with complex terrain. Why are you now going on this journey?

Yes, I am a person who loves to explore the limits of people and also likes difficult challenges. It helps me overcome my fears. Sports have inadvertently become an important part of my life. Personally, doing what seems impossible is valuable in self-development, positive thinking, and always aiming for better things.

This journey is also a way for me to overcome the safety loop, bringing greater value to the surrounding community. Previously, I thought that I had created value for the community by sharing my experiences. But now, I think I have to do something more practical, which is to take an action that will help the whole community to make positive changes.

Thanh Vũ has been carrying out Journey 4.7 with the message of cycling through Việt Nam with Thanh Vũ for Việt Nam's sustainable development. — Photo courtesy of Thanh

Inner Sanctum: When did you get the idea for this journey?

I had the idea quite a long time ago. Since high school, I have participated in many activities related to the environment. When I grew up and got busy with work, I didn't have much time for it any more and after that many other things became my priorities in life.

The issue of climate change is really urgent. Plastic pollution is getting worse and worse. We need to balance what we use from the environment, from nature. With the unexpected effects after I won the Deca Triathlon World Championship, I want to use my voice to share with everyone that extraordinary things are not only for a few people, but extraordinary things come from ordinary people, doing ordinary things to make life better.

Inner Sanctum: Why did you choose the name "Journey 4.7"?

I chose the name of Journey 4.7 because when people think about moving towards a goal, if the goal is too big, it will make people frustrated and want to give up.

The secret to keeping me from getting frustrated as I approach giant goals is dividing them into small milestones. Instead of thinking about conquering hundreds of kilometres in a tournament, I always focus on doing the next 1 kilometre well, before approaching the other next.

Thinking about hundreds of millions of kilograms of plastic leaking into the environment will easily discourage people. The number 4.7 is 4.7 kilograms of plastic waste leaking into the environment per capita in Việt Nam, according to IUCN statistics, making our country one of the leading environmental polluters.

With the goal of changing the habit of using too many single-use and unsorted items at the source of Vietnamese people, I started from reducing unnecessary disposable items and improving the sorting process at home and office. After limiting the habits that lead to my leaking 4.7kg of plastic waste, the next thing is to encourage people around me to do the same.

People collect plastic waste for Journey 4.7 in Hải Phòng City. — Photo courtesy of journey 4.7

Inner Sanctum: Is this a big challenge for you?

I think this is a massive challenge. The possibility of success or achieving the desired goal is probably very small. But I allow myself to overcome all the insecurities to approach it. Because I think that in this journey, I can also learn a lot. I can motivate many people to do even better in the future.

Inner Sanctum: What difficulties and advantages do you face on this journey?

I had a hard time making this journey. The hard part is finding my own way, and encouraging people to change their habits. We all know what we need to do, but getting motivated and committed is a long process.

For anyone who wants to reduce plastic waste at any scale, from individuals, from small businesses to large corporations, they all face difficulties, but when we have good focus, we will find new and interesting solutions.

I am enthusiastically supported in every locality I have visited. Hundreds of kilograms of plastic waste has been collected, which will not become "rubbish" leaking into the environment, but become valuable and aesthetic recycled products.

Plastic waste is collected to recycle. — Photo courtesy of journey 4.7

Inner Sanctum: Through this journey, what do you want to convey?

Firstly, don't think you are too small to make changes, create extraordinary results, and allow yourself to be challenged.

Second is the problem of environmental change, climate change, and plastic pollution. We abuse disposable items, and we do not have an effective way to classify, process, collect and recycle them, so the best thing we should do first is reduce.

One of the ways that I bring value to myself as well as to others is helping them to have a more positive mindset and understand themselves better through physical training. When we have good health, we can do many things.

Inner Sanctum: You are considered a "steel rose", winning one of the toughest competitions in the world in Switzerland last year. Now you are still actively approaching new challenges by cycling more than 3,000km around the country to call for reducing plastic waste. For many, you are "a girl of miracles". What are your thoughts on this?

Actually, I still have many shortcomings and my friends also agree on that (smile). But even though I have many weaknesses, I never have low self-esteem. Life is a gift that we should take full advantage of. Every time I allow myself to approach difficult challenges, it is good for me. It helps me break through. No matter how good or bad the results are, it is a very valuable and great experience for me. This is how we create a life worth living. VNS