Nguyen Thi Thuy Hong, now 76, continues to teach youngsters her badminton skills and techniques nearly every day at Phu Tho Sports Center in District 11.
Vietnamese fans of badminton in the 1960s and 70s have been excited to learn that their one-time idol remains passionate about the sport after all these years.
Hong said that she had worked as a children’s badminton coach for over four decades.
Born in 1941, Hong first picked up a badminton racket when she was 17 years old.
After a year of training, the young talent was selected to compete in a national tournament.
Hong was a strong competitor not only in individual competition, but also in categories for teams, astonishing observers with her extraordinary endurance.
Her strength and stamina remain present half a century later.
“I managed to participate in several national tournaments during my 60s, but as my health has weakened, I cannot keep that up,” Hong said.
“However, I will never give up teaching badminton,” she said, adding that spending time with her students at the sports center has improved her physical and mental health.
As she has never married, Hong lives with her niece and her husband.
She often takes care of the housework during the day and then takes a motorbike taxi to Phu Tho Sports Center at around 4: 00 pm.
Aside from a break on Thursdays, Hong spends every evening coaching badminton to eager children.
Till death do us part
Hong continued to ride her motorbike from her house in District 3 to the sports center in District 11 until five years ago.
Following a traffic accident that fractured four of her rib bones, Hong’s family refused to let her ride the bike by herself.
“It took me six months to fully recover and get back to my classes,” Hong recalled, adding that her niece kept telling her to retire.
“I would rather die,” Hong continued. “I did not get married so I could dedicate my entire life to badminton. It’s something I cannot live without.”
Parents of Hong’s students never worry about her old age when they sign their children up for her class as they admire her experience, friendly personality, and effective teaching methods.
“I’ve known about Hong since she was an athlete, and was very surprised to hear that she was still teaching the sport,” Thanh Tuan, one father, said.
“She is a very dedicated coach. I don’t have to worry about anything when signing my child up for her class,” he continued.
The coach sometimes uses her own money to rent courts for students to do some extra practice, Tuan added.