HANOI (Vietnam News/Asia News Network): After winning gold in javelin at the SEA Games, Lò Thị Hoàng knew immediately what she was going to do with her precious medal, present it to her mother.
As a young girl growing up in her Thái ethnic community, Hoàng had always dreamed of representing her country in sports and being crowned a champion.
And her wish came true when her throw of 56.37m at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium not only sealed top spot, but also broke the the 15-year SEA Games record of 55.97m set by Buoban Pamang of Thailand in 2007.
At the end of the competition and with the national flag draped around her shoulders, Hoàng set off in search of her mother. When the two eventually met, the tears of joy flowed freely.
"I want to give this medal to my mother,” Hoàng said.
“When I'm tired or under pressure, I can only call my mother. She told me to always try my best.
“As I am part of the Thái ethnic group where few people can go to school let alone attend the SEA Games. I am very happy that my parents can come to encourage me. As you know, the journey from my house (Sơn La Province) to here is not easy.”
Hoàng's gold medal was even more meaningful because it is the first gold for Vietnamese athletics in the women's javelin in the history of the SEA Games.
Before the start of the Games 31, very few people believed that Hoàng would win the gold because of the strength of Thailand in this event.
Hoàng said: "In the previous competitions, Vietnam only won silver or bronze and were always behind Thailand.
“However, I knew I could do it and earn a gold medal. I'm extremely satisfied with this result.
“In 2021, I had an injury and didn’t compete well. This year, due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were no national tournaments so I couldn’t perfect my skills much.”
Hoàng was still injured while competing in the region's biggest sporting event but carried on through the pain barrier.
"I have been injured many times in my elbows, back and now in both knees," she said.
"When I compete, I have to wear long pants. I am afraid of letting the opponent see my injury. When I compete, I forget all the pain and fatigue, just focus on the shots."
The 25-year-old was under a lot of pressure before her competition day because her colleagues had continuously won gold medals for the Vietnamese sports contingent. She suffered from insomnia because of nerves but thanks to the support of the fans and the close guidance of the coaching staff, she brought home gold.
At the 2019 Games in the Philippines Hoàng won silver, losing out to her opponent from Thailand. This was her chance to change the colour of the medal to gold.
According to Hoàng, when her injuries became so painful and she couldn't train, it crossed her mind to give up. However, her parents and coaches encouraged and helped her overcome difficulties to be successful.
The SEA Games champion said her younger sister is also a great motivation for her to succeed. She too was an athlete, but had to give up due to her injury.
Hoàng got married last year and always received support from her husband's family in sports.
"I got married, but I don’t intend to have a baby just yet," she said.
"I still want to focus on sports. I really love my husband and my in-laws. My husband has always supported me to continue my sports career. My parents-in-law understand me, treat me like their daughter, so I am given all conditions to follow sports.”
Hoàng came to this sport quite late when she was in ninth grade and it changed her life.
“I was born in a poor countryside where there are still pathways so I determined to change my life. I have practised and studied for many years and now I have graduated from the Bắc Ninh University of Sport. I want to dedicate the gold medal to my whole family, who have always supported me,” Hoàng said.