Nguyen Thi Anh Vien has told the media that she wants to be the number one. And she voluntarily pays a steep price in her life to satisfy her desire to stand on the peak. Many people call the price her disadvantage but Vien denies it. The 19-year-old Vietnamese athlete realized part of her dream after eight times of standing on top with eight gold medals and eight times of breaking records at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will wrap up tonight in Singapore. Vien said her target now is a world-level gold medal. Ahead of her chat with fans at 4:30 pm on June 17 at the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Culture House, she and her coach Dang Anh Tuan sat for an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday and revealed stories about her real life to prove her strong spirit and aspiration for overcoming challenges. Preparing for school exams Yesterday, Vien and her chemistry teacher worked in a vast classroom. The teacher, Le Van Cuong, from the Thu Duc education center in Ho Chi Minh City said he has a week starting from June 15 to complete the chemistry course with Vien to prepare her for the 11th grade exams. “We, a teacher and a student, will review all basic knowledge of chemistry of 11th grade,” Cuong said. “Vien is gentle but strong-willed, and smart. “I need to explain the lessons just once and she understands them.” Besides chemistry, Vien is also studying other subjects such as math, physics, literature, history, geography, and English to finish her academic curriculum before leaving for a new swimming training session in the U.S. Last night, Vien had an hour and a half to train in a swimming pool in Ho Chi Minh City. Swimming gift Her coach Tuan recalled the first moment he met Vien. “It was five years ago when Vien was 14 years old. She was thin, around 39kg and her complexion was tawny. “I asked her to get into water. “She made a neat and swift move. “A good swimmer has a strong stretching capacity and it is the strong stretch of the body that creates a champion.” Tuan said he once carried her to her hometown, the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho, where her family was living in a simple house with cheap furniture. After a talk, her grandfather held the hands of Tuan and said, “Please try to help her.” The coach said he then promised himself that he would train Vien because he realized she is a talent. Strong-willed Tuan said he wanted to include her on the list of the Vietnamese junior national team and so he had to take her to some local swimming events to compete for medals to meet the standards for admission to a national team. “Vien has a strong spirit and great self-awareness and I admire her for that,” Tuan said. The coach recounted, “Four months before the 2015 SEA Games, Vien and I were training in the U.S. “I asked her not to use the Internet to focus on training. “I left my iPad in our two-room apartment but she didn’t use it even when I was out then. “We set a target to win nine gold medals at the 28th SEA Games. “And I saw her message pasted on her bed, reading ‘Trying to train to win nine gold medals.’ “It is her way to tell herself to try her utmost,” Tuan said. The Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in 2013 was the first time Vien and her coach had had to celebrate the festival far from home, in the U.S. Vien called her parents back home just on Lunar New Year’s Eve. “Moments later, I heard her whimper. I know she was home sick after talking with her parents and brother,” Tuan said. “I entered her room and told her when she was sitting at the corner of her bed: ‘If you want, you can go home right now and never think about any championship. You should only cry in two cases: one is the loss of your relatives and the other is when you are standing on the peak as a champion.’” Tuan said after that he has never seen her cry again. 'The road is ahead' During the interview with Tuoi Tre on Monday, Vien admitted that, “I don’t see it as a disadvantage when I spend so much time for swimming and thus have no time to enjoy my life.” When Vien was taking part in the Olympic Games in London in 2012, she asked her coach, Tuan, to take a photograph of her with U.S. star swimmer Michael Phelps. Tuan agreed to her request and later told her, “You should try so that others will come to you to take pictures like that.” Vien did not say anything then but last week after leaving Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, she told Tuan, “I have fulfilled a part of what you told me.” She stressed “a part” and it is good because she has clearly seen the gap between a gold medal of the SEA Games and that of the Olympic Games, Tuan noted. “I don’t want to talk about my past achievements. For me the road is ahead,” Vien told the media in a gentle voice but her eyes glinted with determination.
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