Twenty-year-old taekwondo artist Truong Thi Kim Tuyen has become the first Vietnamese to win a silver medal at the sport's world championship.
Tuyen made history at the 2017 Muju WTF World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea even though she was defeated by Korean rival Jae-young in the women’s 46kg final on Sunday.
The silver medal is a new benchmark for Vietnam’s taekwondo, after Vietnamese athletes had previously only finished as high as third five times over the last 22 years, earning two bronzes at the 1995 event, and one each in 1999, 2005 and 2011.
Tuyen, ranked 33rd in the world, made her way to the finale after defeating the world's number two, Canadian Yong Yvette, in the qualifiers and the world’s number six, Thailand’s Napaporn Charanwat, in the quarterfinals.
Nguyen The Hiep, a former head coach of the Vietnamese national taekwondo team, said Tuyen deserves the silver medal for her painstaking training effort and fearless spirit, despite her modest physique.
“Tuyen may not be able to win medals in the Olympic-standard 49kg event, but I knew she would succeed in the 46kg category on the Asian and world stage,” Hiep told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper after learning of Tuyen’s historic silver.
“I watched Tuyen compete in South Korea online and she totally deserves the world championship silver medal.”
Tuyen (L, 2nd) celebrates after winning the historic silver.
Tuyen was born in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long and has had to live away from home since the age of 14 for training in the central city of Da Nang and in Hanoi.
At her maiden Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2015, the then 18-year-old snatched gold after defeating strong rivals from Thailand and the Philippines.