“I always look to my homeland and believe that millions of Vietnamese people are encouraging me and giving me more strength, so at the final round I did not think about myself, but of the national flag. At that time, the national spirit seemed to overwhelm my mind and encourage me to compete for the victory. I concentrated to do the best I could,” confided Hoang Xuan Vinh after receiving the gold medal.
Hoang Xuan Vinh won a gold medal in the men’s 10m air pistol
with 202.5 points at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo: EPA/VNA
Shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh after winning a gold medal in the men’s 10m air pistol,
breaking the previous Olympic record. Photo: EPA/VNA
Right after the historical moment, the Euro Sports commented: “Hoang Xuan Vinh wins the first gold medal for Vietnam. The 41-year-old shooter won over 24 year-old Felipe Almeida Wu of Brazil after his final shot under great pressure from the host country’s audience”.
Only a few days later, Vinh captured a silver medal in the men’s 50m pistol event and was listed as one of 4 outstanding athletes at the Olympics up to August 10. The media, social networks and forums in Vietnam were covered with news, images and comments like “Hoang Xuan Vinh – Vietnam is proud of you” to praise his exploits.
Short-sighted man with an ardent love for shooting
Hoang Xuan Vinh lost his mother when he was three years old so he endured a tough childhood. His health was not good and he is short sighted and 1m60 tall. When he was 18 years old, he decided to join the army and his life changed when he was handed a rifle at the age of 20.
Four years later, Vinh won his first shooting medal at a national competition and then a gold medal when breaking the national record in the men’s 10m air pistol event at the age of 26. With these achievements, Vinh became a member of the national shooting team. However, there were times when Vinh thought of giving up his competitive shooting career because of his short-sightedness and heart problems. However, with patience and the undaunted will of a soldier, Vinh defied all odds. He once said that it was strange exercises like meditation and exercises to overcome shortcomings (loudly shouting slogans) given by his chief coach Nguyen Thi Nhung that helped him address his psychological shortcomings.
Images of Hoang Xuan Vinh training at the National Sports Training Centre with the pistol presented
by a Swiss Company that he used at the 2016 Olympics
Few people know that during his 17 years doing the sport, Vinh and other members of the national shooting team defied sub-standard training conditions where they had to practice with paper targets and a shortage of ammunition. As there was no ammunition, when Vinh went to the shooting range to train, he just raised the gun, pulled the trigger to hear the ‘tick’ sound, and that was it. It was also a real barrier for shooters when competing in a large arena. When buying new guns, Vietnamese shooters have to whittle the gunstock to make it fit their hands, whereas, foreigners are supported by machines. For this reason, Vinh is considered a sculptor of gunstocks.
Before going to the 2016 Summer Olympics, Vinh and his teammates had their only chance to practice in the world’s most modern shooting range in RoK. During that time, his coach Nguyen Thi Nhung and expert Park Chung Gun gave exercises of high techniques for Vinh that contributed to his exploits at the Rio Olympics.
During his career, Vinh gradually broke records and won gold medals at both national and international competitions. However, this Olympic gold medal is truly exceptional and in the hearts of the Vietnamese people, Vinh is the most outstanding athlete of Vietnam in the 21st century.
On August 14, marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh arrived at Noi Bai International Airport to the warm reception of hundreds of fans, relatives and sports cadres, including the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien.
Compiled by Thong Thien – Photos: AFP, Xinhua, EPA, Truong Van Vi, Le Minh Son and Viet Linh