From Grab bike driver to SEA Games gold medallist

February 02, 2020 - 08:23

PhạmThị Thu Trang triumphed in the women’s 10km walk at the SEA Games 30, but before her victory, she worked as a Grab bike driver to support her family. Thanh Nga has a chat with her.


Runner PhạmThị Thu Trang celebrates winning the women’s 10km walk at the SEA Games 30. Photo


PhạmThị Thu Trang triumphed in the women’s 10km walk at the SEA Games 30, but before her victory, she worked as a Grab bike driver to support her family. Thanh Nga has a chat with her.

Inner Sanctum: Were you surprised to win a gold medal at SEA Games 30?

I couldn't believe it. I just wanted to reach the finish line, not thinking about winning the SEA Games gold medal.

I was added to Việt Nam's team two months prior to the Games after I finished second in the national championships. It was the first time I'd competed in an international event so I was very happy to win.

I thank my coach, Hà Nội's Department of Culture and Sports and the Hà Nội Sports Training Centre to help me train and compete.


Inner Sanctum: How did it feel to beat strong rivals, including defending champion NguyễnThị Thanh Phúc?

I set off quickly and I'd left my other rivals from Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar to leave just me and defending champion and Olympian Phúc, who was favourite to win her fourth title.

However, Phúc made a technical mistake and her time was docked by two minutes so I took full advantage to take the gold with a time of 52:59.45.

Phúc is a three-time SEA Games winner and had never faced any domestic competitors, so I was very happy to defeat her at the SEA Games.

I will try my best at my next tournaments with my experience, skills and strength.


Inner Sanctum: How did you prepare for the SEA Games?

One month before the Games, I was sent to China to train after working with my teammates in Hà Nội.


Runner PhạmThị Thu Trang (front) at the SEA Games 30. Photo


Inner Sanctum: Your parents didn’t know that you competed at the SEA Games. Can you explain why?

My parents wanted me to retire from competition to go home to do a stable job, so I didn’t tell them.

After finding out I'd won a SEA Games gold medal, they were very proud of me and said I should continue.

Inner Sanctum: You've overcome a lot to get this far, and even worked as a Grab bike driver in your spare time to help your parents pay the bills. How did that work?

I was born in a poor village in Chương Mỹ District in Hà Nội. My parents are farmers. In their spare time, they work on construction sites. I love them very much. I used my free time to work as a motorbike taxi driver for two hours a day to earn money to help my family.

Thanks to that, I was able to send home about VNĐ2 million (US$86) per month. My parents asked me where the money came from, and I just said it was my salary.

Helping my family a little bit made me comfortable to train and compete better.

Inner Sanctum: Following the SEA Games 30, do you intend to continue to work as a Grab bike driver?

I will compete in many tournaments this year so I will stop my extra work to focus on my career.

Inner Sanctum: What led you to take up athletics?

I've had a passion for athletics since I was in ninth grade. My father took me to the Hà Nội Sports Training Centre for a trial, and I passed.

I have been training in athletics for six years but only moved to walking in the last two years. 

I used to run 5km, 10km and 42km.

Inner Sanctum: What’s next on your agenda?

Now I am training to compete in the 20km walking race at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Japan in March. I hope I break 1 hour and 38 minutes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. VNS