Despite his painful shoulder injury, Vietnamese weightlifter Le Van Cong tried his best to grasp a silver medal in the 49kg weight category on Thursday at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Cong entered the competition as the 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medalist and also the world record holder in the same category, with 183.5 kilograms lifted in Mexico in 2017.
The 37-year-old defending champion, born with deformed legs, was not in his best strength when joining the competition due to his injury.
Cong, however, succeeded in the third lift of 173 kilograms after overcoming the two previous ones of 165 kilograms and 170 kilograms.
Meanwhile, his opponent Jordan’s Qarada Omar Sami Hamadeh, who came second to Cong in the 2016 contest, also finished his performance with 173 kilograms.
According to the rule, when two or more athletes are tied, the winner will be decided by weight.
Cong weighed 47.31 kilograms while Omar Qarada was 100 grams less than his Vietnamese rival, meaning the Jordanian weightlifter was named the winner.
The bronze medal went to Azerbaijani athlete Mammdov Parvin with his best lift of 156 kilograms.
Cong’s success marked the first medal won by Team Vietnam at this global sporting event.
Unlike Cong, Vietnamese swimmers Trinh Thi Bich Nhu and Vu Thanh Tung failed to progress to the final round.
In 2018, Cong suffered a very serious right shoulder injury and stopped training for nearly two years.
About five months ago, he suffered a serious injury to his left shoulder and his doctor said he needed six months to recover, but Cong tried to overcome the pain soon and return to practice for the Tokyo Paralympics.
“My best powerlifting performance before coming to Japan was only 160kg," Cong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
"I had to use anesthetic to relieve the pain so that I could compete.
"After the competition, when the anesthetic wore off, I was in so much pain that I could not eat.”
Despite unable to defend the gold medal, the athlete is still a hero for his excellent efforts in the eyes of Vietnamese fans.
Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung has congratulated and praised Cong for his achievement.
With this silver medal, he has been awarded a prize of VND50 million (US$2,180).
In addition to his achievements in weightlifting, Cong has also been well known for his charitable activities.
The powerlifter once auctioned his Rio Paralympics gold medal, which he considered “a part of [his] defective body,” for VND125 million ($5,460) to help a neighbor student pay for the treatment for a serious illness.
Last year, when the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in Da Nang, Cong and his friends offered one ton of corn grown by himself and his friends to the Da Nang para-athletics team.