HA NOI (— Thach Kim Tuan is Viet Nam’s top hope for the men’s 56kg category at the upcoming 17th Asian Games (ASIAD) in South Korea, following an impressive performance at the recent Junior World Weightlifting Championships in Russia.
Tuan won three gold medals and set two junior world records at the world event. With the total lift of 293kg, Tuan now ranks first in the world in the men’s 56kg weight category.
“Tuan is having the best run of his career. At the age of 20, he is very fit. If he competes like he does in practice, he will be on track for a gold medal,” said coach Huynh Huu Chi.
According to Chi, Tuan is achieving even better results in his training sessions than his title-winning performance in Russia and has raised his total lift to 300kg.
“At the world event, Tuan’s result of 293kg was achieved in his second attempt. Tuan could have improved this result in the third attempt but I stopped him. That was enough for him to take gold,” Chi added.
According to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), the three best weightlifters in the men’s 56kg at the end of last year were Om Yun Chol of North Korea (total lift of 289kg), Long Qingquan of China (287kg) and Tuan (283kg).
While Tuan has increased last year’s lift by more than 10kg, he will face problems if these rivals have recorded bigger gains. Neither Chol nor Quingquan have competed at events leading up to the ASIAD but new contenders from other countries may also pose a threat.
“Now I don’t mind, but I must to do my best at the Asiad. I will try to bring victory for my country,” Tuan said.
The 17th ASIAD will take place from today until October 4, with weightlifting rounds slated for September 20-26.
After his Russian win, Tuan completed training in Hungary.
When returning to Viet Nam, the coach wants Tuan to focus on his game and not be distracted. The instructor fears that his student could be targeted by doping rings after his former trainee Hoang Anh Tuan received a two-year ban from the IWF for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs at the world weightlifting championships in Turkey in 2010.
Anh Tuan, who is Viet Nam’s best ever weightlifter and won silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2006 Asian Games in Doha, missed the Guangzhou ASIAD in 2010.
Coach Chi has been carefully monitoring Tuan’s nutrition and daily routines, considering him a child of his own.
Tuan’s parents died when he was three. He and his siblings left their hometown for HCM City in 1997 where they made a living selling fruit, soya milk and lottery tickets.
Tuan decided to join the city’s weightlifting team when he was 12 with the simple thought that if he was healthy, it would help them to earn more money for his family.
Years later, he won silver and two bronze medals at the 2011 World Junior Weightlifting Championships. This was followed by a silver medal at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in 2013 and a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games last year