World karate champion Nguyen Thi Ngoan

A young girl’s will of iron

Sunday, 2018-02-18 02:16:24
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Nguyen Thi Ngoan and the gold medal won at the Karate 1-Premier League.
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NDO – Despite being at the tender age of 19, Nguyen Thi Ngoan (pictured) has to not only care for her own life but also fully fulfill the role of eldest sister and be the breadwinner for her family to cover her father’s disease treatment. This, perhaps, has helped to foster the maturity, bravery, and remarkable willpower of a girl who has won a historic gold medal for Vietnam at the Karate 1-Premier League arena, the most important league event in the world of karate.

>>> Vietnamese karate dreams of Olympics

In an interview granted to Nhan Dan Monthly, a publication of Nhan Dan Newspaper, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tet), the Phu Tho-born martial artist has shared her fascinating story about the career path she has been following.

You have written a new historical page for Vietnamese karate by securing the country’s first-ever world-class gold medal in 2017. This is a really exceptional feat, and can you share something about your journey to the 61kg combat title?

My weight category featured 98 competitors. I was exempted from the preliminary round. I then beat rivals from Turkey, Switzerland, the United States, France, and Austria before winning the final match against Jumaa Haya of Canada with a score of 3-1.

I am very happy to become the first Vietnamese martial artist to win the highest title in such a prestigious tournament. However, my trainer reminds me that difficulties and challenges are still waiting ahead. Moreover, I’m still young, so I must continue striving to progress.

Despite your young age of 19, you have participated in three big tournaments since your international debut in 2016. So what makes Ngoan a skilful fighter with enduring stamina like at present?

Actually, there are no special secrets. I just follow what my trainer teaches me and try to practise with my instinct. Of course, athletes must train hard and be enabled to regularly attend competitions if they want to achieve success.

Who did you think of right after striking the historic gold medal in Halle/Leipzig, Germany?

It was my trainer, Le Tung Duong. I always remind myself of performing at my best on the competition stage in order not to betray his expectations.

What have you learnt from karate?

It is confidence, bravery, and better endurance. Karate needs power and speed, so I train myself a fighting mindset. That combination helps to improve my agility both in life and in competition.

What drove you to become a martial artist?

I have developed a passion for action films since my early age, so I’m determined to follow a martial art, and I have chosen karate.

Luckily my parents support me. Up to now, they have always stood by and encouraged me during both my training and competitions.

Just a little bit curious, what did you spend your bonus on?

I did not keep the prize money for myself but sent it home to help my parents to pay their debts and repair the house.

Is your family disadvantaged?

My father has suffered from diabetes and pancreatic disease since I was only ten, and needs a lot of money for treatment. As the eldest sister of the three children, I need to take the responsibility. Family is the biggest driver for me to strive for success in my karate career. Despite living in extreme difficulties, my parents and younger siblings always encourage and inspire me a lot during my competition process.

Nguyen Thi Ngoan practises with her trainer, Le Tung Duong.

Olympics dream

You have made the world’s top ten female fighters in the World Karate Federation’s 61kg category rankings. How is this milestone significant to you?

It is great fun for me, but we are always taught to be modest, hard-working and never satisfied with ourselves. I am also self-conscious that I am still young and should learn to unceasingly improve myself.

Before achieving the world-class feat, you had tested yourself at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. What is your feeling about competing in these two playgrounds?

The SEA Games is just a regional playground, but I was psychologically stressed and under pressure for achievements. At the 2017 SEA Games, I won one individual bronze medal and one team silver medal. I could have done better without the referee-related issues.

At the world competition, I fought confidently and comfortably with no fear of unjust judgments from referees. This helped me to apply all of what I was taught and beat off the strong opponents for the overall gold medal.

It is a big gap from the SEA Games to the world arena, but you have been successful in making history for Vietnamese karate. However, the Olympics will be a much larger sporting arena. Are you confident in making it through to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games?

It is my dream. Booking an Olympic ticket is the optimal goal for each athlete. There remains two years left, and I will try my best to secure a place in the 2020 Games. Immediately, I am focusing on my training in order to take the best results at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia this August.

Thank you very much!