Victory: Nguyễn Thị Oanh seen at the National Sports Games. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thị Oanh
Viet Nam News
Standing just 1.53m tall and having survived kidney disease, runner Nguyễn Thị Oanh brought home a bronze medal from the Asian Games (ASIAD) and two golds from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. At the National Sports Games, which recently concluded in the capital Hà Nội, Oanh brought her team, Bắc Giang, three gold medals and broke three National Sports Games’ records. Thanh Nga speaks to the track star.
Inner Sanctum: Bắc Giang won three gold medals at the National Sports Games which concluded in Hà Nội last month. All three medals belonged to you. How do you feel?
After finishing the National Sports Games with three gold medals and breaking three Games’ records in the women’s 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m hurdles, I was very happy. I thanked my coaches, family and friends for supporting me during training and competition.
Inner Sanctum: How did you prepare for the event?
I set targets and co-ordinated with my coaching staff.
To prepare for the National Sports Games, which are held every four year, the authorities of Bắc Giang sent me abroad to hone my skills and gain experience. With this careful preparation, I was successful in the nation’s biggest sports event.
Inner Sanctum: Can you speak a little bit about your achievements in the Games?
I completed the 3,000m hurdles with a time of 9:56.08, breaking the old record of 10:02.98.
In the 1,500m category, I beat 11 athletes to take gold after clocking a time of 4:14.67, breaking the old record of four minutes and 17 seconds.
While in the women’s 5,000m, I also set a new national record with a time of 16:35.30. This result also broke the old record of 17:06.05.
Top speed: Nguyễn Thị Oanh is the first Vietnamese runner to break the 10-minute barrier in the 3,000m hurdles. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thị Oanh
Inner Sanctum: You also gained a bronze medal at the ASIAD held in Indonesia in August. Although you didn’t win gold, your result was the best by Việt Nam’s track and field team. Can you explain it?
At ASIAD, I won a bronze medal in the 3,000m hurdles with a time of 9:43.83 which broke the national record of 10:02.98 set by Nguyễn Thị Phương of Thanh Hóa in 2010.
I beat the record by 19.15secs. It was an amazing achievement that surprised even myself.
With this result, I became the first Vietnamese athlete to run the 3,000m hurdles in under 10 minutes.
This bronze medal also prompted Bắc Giang’s athletics managers to encourage other young talents.
Inner Sanctum: When did you fall in love with athletics?
My sister was an amateur athlete so I loved track and field. I took part in many tournaments in secondary school and then I was called up to the Bắc Giang provincial athletics team in 2010. Two years later, I was selected for the national junior athletics team coached by Trần Văn Sỹ.
I still remember the first days training with Sỹ. I was small and still weak. I was exhausted after every session. I nearly couldn’t get up, stand or eat. I cried a lot. But I kept pursuing my passion for athletics.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell us a little about your kidney disease and how you overcame it?
In late 2014, I found that I had weak kidneys. My body was swollen with oedema. I couldn’t train any more and was treated in the hospital. I thought my running career was over.
After that, I often wore a face mask when I went out because my face was swollen and my muscles had shrunk.
However, the passion for sports urged me on, and I ran again in June 2015. It was really difficult due to the drugs I was taking.
Although it was miserably hard, the steps I took led me to my dream of a medal at ASIAD.
Inner Sanctum: Can you list other memorable results in your career?
I won two golds in the 1,500m and 5,000m category at the SEA Games in 2017.
As you know, I won a bronze at ASIAD last year. I also bagged two more bronzes at the Asian Indoor Games in Iran last year.
I won three golds and broke three 2018 National Sports Games’ records and I am the winner in 5,000m and 3,00m hurdles category in three years in a row at the National Athletics Championships in 2016-18.
Inner Sanctum: Who is your idol?
I look up to Rini Budiati, an Indonesian athlete in the 3,000m hurdles. I competed with her many times. She is very skilful, strong and has a very good mentality. I need to learn from her.
Inner Sanctum: What are you planning for the future?
I will train hard to complete my target: gaining three golds at the SEA Games 2019. In July, tournaments to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic 2020 will begin. I hope I can earn a ticket to Tokyo, Japan.
Inner Sanctum: What do you do in your free time?
Like other girls, I like going shopping and doing my hair in my free time. I also have a small shop selling sports clothes and shoes. I am satisfied with my life now. — VNS