Winning a gold medal at the women’s 52kg event at the Asian and World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Championships held in Bangkok from Sept.28 – Oct.8 with the participation of 34 countries from all over the world, Nguyen Thi My Linh has entered Vietnam’s sports history as the first Vietnamese woman to win a gold medal at world bodybuilding championship.
It could not have come at a more fitting moment in her life as both a long-awaited reward and an exhilarating gift for the mother of two girls who just celebrated her 40th birthday last Wednesday.
It also marked her impressive return to the competition arena at the age of 40 after a 2-year ban for doping soon after being crowned at the 2007 Asian Bodybuilding Championship.
Recalling the moment standing on the podium to receive the gold medal with Vietnam’s national flag being raised up high, she said she couldn’t hold back her tears of happiness.
Given the endless hours she devoted to a relentless training regime, she believed it was a well-deserved reward for her.
Never say never
Linh recalled her colleagues’ and friends’ judgment that she had passed the peak time in her athletic career after she repeatedly failed to reach her previous performance level.
After winning a gold medal at the 2007 Asian Bodybuilding Championship, Linh went through a two-year ban. When she returned to the tournament in 2009, she could only manage to win a silver. At the 2010 Asian Bodybuilding Championship, despite trying her best, again she was left with another silver medal. Disappointed, her colleagues and friends began to give up hope of seeing her on the gold medal podium.
However, failures in reaching the top at the two events only strengthened the woman’s determination and doubled up her effort to get back to her gold performance. Apart from her training job at the Lan Anh sports center in Ho Chi Minh City, she spent all her time on nothing else but training.
Linh admitted she trained three times harder than her colleagues. Her friends even jokingly called her “Mr.” when seeing the bulging muscles on her shoulder, hands and legs, Linh said.
Just ten days before the 2011 event in Thailand started, her will power was stretched to its limit when she came down with a cold after riding her motorbike home during a rain.
A long-term diet she had been following for muscle tightening and weight reduction had badly affected the immune system, Linh explained.
“Ignoring the cold and my running nose, I just stuck to my training schedule, without daring to take any flu medicine as it contains active elements that made me fail the doping test in 2007 and resulted in the ban,” Linh recalled.
Finally, her efforts paid off with the gold medal at the 2011 world event.
After she achieved her dream of winning the world’s gold medal, her next biggest challenge is to get a house of her own, despite having lived and worked in Ho Chi Minh City for some time.
Linh and her two daughters have lived in a rented house in Binh Chanh District for the last ten years.
“My biggest dream now is to have a house here to make my job easier,” Linh said.