By Thanh Nga
When Phạm Thị Kiều Giang won gold at the SEA Games 31 she fulfilled a 20-year dream.
The martial artist, 32, took up vovinam (Vietnamese traditional martial arts) as a child, but the sport has not been played in the past three Games, so Giang has not had the opportunity to participate.
But this time around she was there with guns blazing and clinched gold in front of thousands of jubilant fans at the Sóc Sơn Gymnasium.
“After 20 years of practicing vovinam, this is my first time participating in the regional biggest sports event,” she said.
“I only know how to fight hard. This gold medal victory is full of emotions for me. Now I am really very happy as my desire is complete.”
On her way to gold, she beat Rattannaphon Hanphan of Thailand 6-0, Hnin Wai Thet of Myanmar 1-0, and then she easily defeated Sok Sophy of Cambodia 11-1 in the final.
Vovinam made its debut in the Games in 2011 in Indonesia and with four countries taking part. At the Games in Myanmar in 2013, vovinam took place a second time with the participation of five countries Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Việt Nam.
Giang said she is very excited to compete in the next Games to be held in Cambodia where vovinam will be included.
She has been honoured for her results gained at the domestic and international events by the provincial Bình Định Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Born in Tân Phú Commune, Châu Thành District which is known as the “vovinam martial arts furnace” of Bến Tre Province, it is not difficult for Giang to fall in love with martial arts.
Giang began when she was eight years old. She is the only daughter in a family of five siblings who all practise martial arts and she is also the only one in her family who has pursued it professionally.
She won many gold medals in domestic events such as the Mekong Delta Vovinam Tournament in 2006 and the National Youth Tournament in 2007.
However, for a long time, Giang had to put aside her passion due to a serious shoulder injury and had to stop from competition after three surgeries. She did not compete from 2009 – 2017. However, during the time of convalescence, she still trained to both keep the fit keep and for her passion for martial arts.
By 2017, when Giang had completely recovered, she decided to return to compete in the colours of the provincial team. She immediately showed her outstanding performance to take the gold medal in the women’s 51kg weight class at the Mekong Delta Vovinam Tournament in 2017. In the national event in 2018, Giang also claimed the gold medal for Bến Tre, making an important contribution to her team’s overall rankings.
Since then, Giang was the national champion in 2019, and 2020 and also won the world title three years ago.
Giang said: “In every job, especially sports, each participant must have a great passion and strong determination to pursue it as well as the will to train hard. I am not too hasty, but push myself from easy to difficult levels and follow the guidance of my coach to achieve the best results.”
Despite 20 years of martial arts, Giang feels in the form of her life, and can’t wait to get into the ring again.
“The martial arts movement of the province is developing strongly, attracting many young people and even children to train in different places. When learning martial arts properly, it will bring a lot of benefits to learners, especially girls. Learning martial arts can help you escape dangerous situations, in terms of health, it will help you have a balanced, healthy, youthful, and agile physique.”
According to Giang, it is necessary to learn martial arts for everyone, especially girls, and according to their ability, they will learn according to an appropriate process.
From her personal experience, Giang’s advice is to take care when injured and don’t rush back until you are completely fit and injury-free. VNS