‘Little Chicken’ carries Vietnam’s hopes for Olympic boxing glory

Greater than a decade later, he’ll journey to Tokyo as the primary Vietnamese boxer to compete at an Olympic Video games since Seoul 1988.

“I come to the Olympics with the final word goal — profitable a medal,” the 24-year-old featherweight (57kg) fighter informed AFP from his coaching camp in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.

Duong’s extraordinary journey from Vietnam’s Bac Giang — an industrial northern province residence to factories supplying Samsung and Foxconn — to Tokyo later this month has astounded even the athlete himself.

A ruthless efficiency in 2020 towards Thailand’s seasoned Chatchai Decha Butdee — which noticed him dispatch his opponent in simply 47 seconds to qualify for the Olympics — completely stunned him.

“I couldn’t consider that I received the match that fast,” he stated.

He had misplaced to the identical fighter in a unanimous choice within the Southeast Asian Video games last a number of months earlier.

Small however deadly drive

As a pint-sized 13-year-old who was towered over by different children his age, Duong initially discovered it exhausting to be taken significantly as a boxer.

When he appeared someday to coach with the nationwide police group, the coach turned to {the teenager}’s cousin and stated: “You introduced this little rooster right here — how lengthy will it take to show him right into a boxer?”

The moniker caught. However Duong quickly surpassed all expectations — profitable the Nationwide Youth Boxing Championship in 2010, becoming a member of the nationwide youth group and turning into a small however deadly drive within the ring.

This yr, Duong has been nearly fully locked down for months on finish at his coaching camp, with no athletes allowed out because of the newest coronavirus wave in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.

Rising at 5:30 a.m. every day, he works exhausting on his health – working and hoisting dumbbells, conscious of the massive problem that lies forward of him.

“The qualifiers and Olympics Video games are completely completely different, so I have to enhance when it comes to method, ways, velocity… every little thing.”

However the pandemic has made preparations notably robust, he admits, and he has beforehand spoken in regards to the huge psychological and physical toll of the final yr.

With native tournaments canceled, essential match follow alternatives have been misplaced.

“After I acquired the ticket for the Olympics, I used to be in my greatest kind, bodily and mentally… I wished to maintain combating, however the Video games have been postponed and I felt a bit bit down.”

Nonetheless, he stays decided as he counts down the times to Tokyo.

“I’ll strive exhausting to ship my greatest efficiency,” he stated. “To deliver victory to my homeland, my nation and to all boxing followers.”

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