Van Ngoc Tu, queen of Vietnamese judo

Tuesday, 2011-04-26 17:09:00
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Van Ngoc Tu (in blue) wins Vietnam’s first medal at the Asian championships.
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Nhan Dan - 24-year-old Van Ngoc Tu won the first medal for Vietnam at the 2011 Asian Judo Championships in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates in early April. It was the highest level a Vietnamese judo martial artist has ever achieved in a continent-wide competition.

Van Ngoc Tu competed in the 48kg weight category along with 15 rivals. She secured her first win over Dewinda Ariani Trisna from Indonesia but lost her second match to championship favourite Endo Hiromi, who later snatched the gold in this event. Ngoc Tu regained her confidence and defeated Devi Khumujarn Tombi from India, securing a ticket to the next round. In a decisive match against Alexandra Podryarova from Kazakstan, Ngoc Tu pulled out all the stops and beat her opponent in only three minutes and 35 seconds to bag the first bronze medal ever for Vietnamese judo at the Asian championships.

Tu was born on August 11, 1987 to a family of martial arts enthusiasts in the southern province of Soc Trang. She started to practise judo along with her two sisters when she was 12 and, after only a few months, she was called up to the provincial team led by master Le Quoc Tham.

Tu quickly gained outstanding achievements in 2002 when she earned four gold medals in local and national tournaments. She became a member of the national team in February 2003 and was able to attend training courses in Japan, the home of judo. Her hard work paid off with a gold medal at the 22nd Southeast Asian Games held in Vietnam in 2003.

Since then, Van Ngoc Tu has been seen as the 'queen of judo' in Vietnam. She has already conquered four consecutive SEA Games by winning gold medals, and she is hoping to prolong this achievement. With the first bronze medal at the Asian championships, Van Ngoc Tu is dreaming about a new level in her career. She earned 72 points when she won the medal, giving her the lead in the International Judo Federation rankings of female martial artists in the 48kg weight category. If she can retain her position, it is very likely that she will be eligible to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The Soc Trang-based martial artist will be working hard to make her big dream come true so she can compete in the biggest sporting event on the planet. In addition to her individual efforts, she also needs to attend more international tournaments to accumulate more points and solidify her current position but, hopefully, her dream is not out of reach.

Dong Hai