Female athletes in “male” sports
The Vietnamese sports industry has made efforts and achieved positive results over the years, with many titles won by female athletes participating in rigorous combat sports or others that require strength and endurance.
From left to right: Vietnamese weightlifter Hoang Thi Duyen, boxer Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi and footballer Cu Thi Huynh Nhu in action (Photo: VNA)
Having a slow start compared to many countries, the Vietnamese sports sector has made efforts and achieved positive results in regional and international arenas over the years, with many titles won by female athletes competing in sports from rigorous combat or others that require a tremendous amount of strength and endurance.
However, more than once, the career choice of sportswomen has been the target of negative comments regarding their physique, femininity or marital status, from people who still have prejudices against women who perform in sports. territories considered to be dominated by men.
There are times when certain sports are presented as male or female, which corresponds to the traditional expectations of both men and women, making it difficult for women to break down gender barriers and participate in sports deemed to be âmaleâ. “.
Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi was Vietnam’s first World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion, after winning a WBO belt in the Republic of Korea on October 23, 2021.
She made history doing it, and it was a fitting gift after celebrating her 25th birthday a day earlier.
After his arm was raised in victory, Nhi turned to the camera and shouted âI’m from Vietnam! “
At that point, she wanted everyone to know that she is Vietnamese and that Vietnamese boxers are capable of reaching the top.
Boxer Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi celebrates her WBO title victory in Ansan, Republic of Korea.
She has now climbed to fourth place in the world mini fly rankings, according to the latest rankings from the official boxing record holder, BoxRec.
Her inspiration is Luu Thi Duyen, who was the first Vietnamese female boxer to win a gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games in 2013.
âI had a burning passion to become the first Vietnamese boxer to win an international title, and I did so when I became Vietnam’s first WBO champion,â said Nhi, who considers himself tenacious, determined and worker.
Boxing has received more attention in Vietnam in recent years, following the success of a number of Vietnamese boxers on the international stage, she explained.
âI am really delighted to be able to make a modest contribution to its development. “
Nhi trained at Cocky Buffalo Club in HCM City to prepare for her 2021 WBO title fight (Photo courtesy of Cocky Buffalo)
In a previous interview, the champion said she works in restaurants and sells lottery tickets to make ends meet. Boxing positively changed her life as she became more peaceful and also earned a stable income to support her family.
Nhi is persistent and eager to go through the mill to become a professional athlete. Many people, despite their great love for the sport and their attempt to pursue the professional path, have to give up for various reasons.
His family and friends are all supporting his career choice and decisions, Nhi said. There are always those, however, who will ask her questions about the marriage or “who would dare to take you for a wife” given that she is involved in “such a dangerous sport”.
“I don’t feel rushed by such comments,” she said.
And female athletes are always ready to give their best in competition, even at “this time of the month.”
Hoang Thi Duyen was among 18 athletes representing Vietnam at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite a knee injury that was not fully healing at the time.
When weightlifters injure themselves, they continue to train using the parts of their body that are still in good shape. They then return to full training once they have recovered to 70% of their injury.
When “that time of the month” arrives, the Olympian said, it takes its toll on her body and her strength. Weightlifting requires strength in the back and abdomen in particular, areas where she feels the most discomfort at this time.
Female weightlifters can take a day off if they feel the need to, but just have to endure the hardships during competition, do their best, and hope their performance is not affected too much.
Duyen poses for a photo with the Olympic symbol at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village (Photo courtesy of the weightlifter)
Duyen, from the Giay ethnic minority group in the mountainous northern province of Lao Cai, was spotted and started training as a professional weightlifter at the age of 12.
Her parents, however, were fiercely opposed to her desire to be successful in the sport, fearing that she might face various hardships and that her body would be too overwhelmed by the nature of the sport.
At first, Duyen hid his daily workout routine from his parents, walking more than 10 km each day along mountain trails to reach the training center. After noticing that she was coming home later and later and her skin was turning tan, they soon discovered her secret.
She had to seek help from her coaches to convince her parents, and works hard to be successful and prove her determination and talent.
Weightlifter during a workout
Duyen spends about five hours a day training, starting with lifting a 15kg bar several times before gradually increasing the weight.
“Now I can support myself and my family through my career,” the 25-year-old said proudly in a telephone interview with the Vietnamese news agency one day after winning a medal. gold in the 59 kg women category at the National Weightlifting Championship. 2021.
The Olympian said she couldn’t help but feel a little hurt when people made negative comments about her career choice and her physique.
âBut words like that never affected the decisions I made. They are part of the sport I have chosen.
âIn the future, I hope to contribute to the development of the sport of weightlifting. I want to become a coach and pass on what I have learned and achieved to the younger generation, âshe declared in a determined tone.
Harsh remarks don’t make these sportswomen back down for the sports they love. On the contrary, they strengthen their determination to be themselves and to have confidence in their choices.
Cu Thi Huynh Nhu, captain of the national women’s football team, has decided to prioritize her career for now, explaining that she has learned from her older colleagues that the road to football is strewn with thorns after the wedding.
She is also about to finish her studies at the Pedagogical University of Ho Chi Minh City.
Forward and captain of the National Women’s Football Team Cu Thi Huynh Nhu (Photo: VNA)
âI tell myself to take negative comments as a reminder to go ahead and work harder to turn my insecurities into more effort,â she said.
Nhu is one of Vietnam’s most decorated footballers, winning the country’s Women’s Ballon d’Or three times, in 2016, 2019 and 2020.
“You can only be successful if you are determined to pursue your passion and dedicate yourself to the things you love,” she said in a phone interview.
Along with determination and strength, agility and flexibility can play an important role in football, she believes.
Born in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, Nhu began her professional football career in 2008, when she was in grade 12. She recalled that it was “an important year which had a major impact on my future” – a sentiment no doubt shared by many other Vietnamese students who are about to graduate and take the next step of their life.
âI chose to be a professional player because of my love and passion for the game,â she said.
That a person’s passion can help put food on the table is a wonderful thing, Nhu added.
“It would be difficult for me to play well if I had financial distractions off the pitch and couldn’t give football my all,” she explained.
She lives by the motto “I succeed because I never hesitate,” she says in a clear, delightful voice.
Nhu won the Vietnam Women’s Ballon d’Or in 2020 (Photo courtesy of the organizer)
Ten years after starting her football career, although some challenges remain, women’s football has seen many positive changes, including sponsorship and fan support, the 30-year-old observed.
She and her national teammates are now training to prepare for the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup final tournament, which begins on January 20 in India.
The Vietnamese team are 32nd in the FIFA world rankings and sixth in the AFC, with dreams of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time still alive.
Describing himself as an independent and cordial person, along with his skills on the pitch, Nhu worked hard to become his team leader and gain the trust of his teammates, as football is a team sport.
Nhi, Duyen and Nhu are among those who have helped bring Vietnam sporting glory and promote the country’s image to international friends.
With courage, determination and passion, they overcame challenges and opposition to succeed in the sport of their choice, encouraging others, especially women, to pursue their dreams, unleash their potential and make the best use of their talents. .
They have also helped to fight against gender norms and change mindsets about what women can and cannot do, contributing to the development of sport in particular and Vietnamese women in general.
A young boxer crowned WBO world champion
Thu Nhi, a martial artist, was inspired to enter the ring after a difficult upbringing led her to believe that she could change her life through competition. Nhi now aspires to reaffirm the national spirit on a global scale as well.