According to the International Wushu Federation, “Wushu taolu (performance) is a set of connecting stylized movements choreographed according to certain laws, embodying the philosophical connotation of attack and defense.”
|Vietnam's wushu taolu artist Duong Thuy Vi (Photo: VNA)
Female martial arts athletes in the performance/non-contact categories have won fame for Vietnam at international competitions in recent years. Some of them include kata “queen” Nguyen Hoang Ngan in Karate and poomse “hotgirl” Chau Tuyet Van in Taekwondo. In Wushu, we have the taolu “golden girl” Duong Thuy Vi. It’s not an exaggeration to call Vi the “golden girl” of Vietnamese sports as the 27-year-old athlete has collected gold medals at the SEA Games 2013, 2015, and 2017, the Wushu World Championships in 2013 and 2017, and notably, the only member of the Vietnamese team to collect gold at the ASIAD Incheon 2014.
|Duong Thuy Vi - the only gold medalist of the Vietnam team at ASIAD Incheon 2014 (Photo: Zing)
Rounds of applause and cheers kept echoing for Vi during her performance at the ASIAD Incheon 2014. Responding to reporters after winning the gold medal, Vi said she was in disbelief until her teammates assured her that she really won: "I’m not sure if I’m destined to win gold medals. Maybe yes. This gold medal is a gift to me and I want to present it to all sports lovers in Vietnam."
After returning Vietnam, Vi further elaborated on her statement: "I was asked who I would like to attribute the gold medal to at the moment I stepped down from the medal podium. I thought it was for myself first of all because I shed my blood, sweat, and tears for that accomplishment. I wanted to attribute my success to my coaches and Vietnam’s sports leaders for helping me so much in my professional training and also for my family and colleagues who are always beside me to give me love and encouragement. I couldn’t have won without their support."
While many of her fellow athletes received familial support from the very first moment of their professional sporting career, Vi didn’t. She had to redouble her efforts in order to pursue her passion. Vi said: "When I finished my tertiary education, my family asked me to take the university entrance exam to have a stable job and future instead of keeping up with professional sports even to this day, when I have found success. Sport is an important part of my life, but my family and friends don’t think the same way. I have always been comforting my parents but they haven’t felt secure about my path, insisting on career alternatives, possibly due to the chronic injuries I have suffered."
| Duong Thuy Vi wins gold medals at SEA Games 29 held in Malaysia in 2017. (Photo: VNA)
Vi failed to realize her target of a gold medal at the ASIAD Jakarta Palembang 2018 and won a silver medal instead. Her dream of winning double gold at the SEA Games 30 this year was broken since her specialties were excluded from the competition. Still, she remains keen on professional sports, majoring in physical education and sports training at the Hanoi University of Physical Education and Sports in Bac Ninh province, where she will graduate this year, and will become a Wushu taolu coach in the future.
While Vi is the “golden girl” of the wushu female team, Cao Khac Dat is the star of the male team. Surprisingly winning a bronze medal at the sword event at a World Junior Wushu Championship when he was 12, it was believed Dat would soon become an outstanding athlete. As expected, he gradually improved thanks to the his dedication and the excellent training he received.
|Cao Khac Dat adds a silver medal to Viet Nam’s bag at the World Wushu Championship in Kazan, Russia, in 2017.
That was a sequence of Dat’s performance at the sword event at the 2017 World Wushu Championships in Russia in which he finished second. Dat is remembered for his strong opening, beautiful choreography, and high spirits during the competition.
His highest accomplishment at the two SEA Games has been the silver medal, though he has already earned gold medals at other world tournaments. Dat and his fellow athletes are practicing tirelessly. He said: “What is most burdensome to me is neither anxiety nor confidence, but injuries. All athletes are obsessed with injuries before the SEA Games because we keep practicing so hard. Just yesterday, I was stabbed in my hand. But all the hardships are left behind to strive for the ultimate goal of winning gold medals.”
Dat was the youngest artist of Vietnam’s wushu taolu team at the 2015 SEA Games. Back then he headed to Singapore just to gain competition experience. Coach Nguyen Van Chuong once said: “In Dat, I see strength and durability. He won my praise for his strong will in practice and competition. He loves this sport. This is a pivotal characteristic for an athlete to reach the top. Professional sports require extreme effort.”
| Duong Khac Dat performs with high spirit. (Photo: Zing)
Dat’s most recent competition was the 2018 ASIAD where he placed 6th in the men’s sword and southern fist categories. He is now determined to win gold at the SEA Games: “I’m a bit nervous ahead of the competition but I promise to do my best to win gold at the SEA Games.”
Our show today has introduced you to the two best wushu athletes in Vietnam. Up next, we will feature the wushu team’s preparations for the upcoming SEA Games 30.
Standing on the medal podium to hear the national anthem and cheers from the crowds is the desire of all athletes when participating in an international competition. The SEA Games 30 is one of Vietnam’s major competitions this year. In recent years, wushu in general and taolu in particular have been national strengths, but this year, the host Philippines has decided to exclude several taolu events, which carry the most potential for Vietnam to win gold.
Coach Nguyen Van Chuong and his wushu taolu artists are diligently preparing for the 2019 World Wushu Championships in Shanghai, China, this October, and shortly after that, the SEA Games 30. Coach Chuong talked about the difficulties they face: “We don’t have women’s long fist and spear events this year because the Philippines know for sure their athletes have no chance to beat ours. The men’s long fist category was also excluded so that Vietnam cannot compete with the Philippines for the top spot in the medal rankings.”
This means that this year’s competition will not see the participation of Duong Thuy Vi, the gold medalist of the spear and sword events, and Nguyen Hoang Phuong Giang, the best wushu artist of the staff category at the SEA Games 29.
The training committee is paying due attention to male wushu athletes in order to realize our target of gold medals at the SEA Games. The highest hope is placed on Nguyen Khac Dat, who already competed at the two previous SEA Games. Winning a silver medal at the broadsword event at the previous SEA Games and a gold medal at the Taolu World Cup 2018 has inspired Dat to greater confidence. Dat said: “I performed in Malaysia better than I practiced at home. But I only won a silver medal. I aim to win gold at this year’s SEA Games.”
Quoc Khanh and Xuan Hiep, with their rich experience at international competitions, are expected to win gold for Vietnam. 29-year-old Khanh, a silver medalist at ASIAD 2018, said: “I see that all athletes in wushu taolu from other countries have progressed a lot thanks to strong investment and intense training. We cannot win gold without great effort. My highest achievements at the SEA Games to date are silver medals. I aim to win gold this time.”
Coach Chuong told us: “We expect to win two or three gold medals. We need to truly push ourselves to achieve that target. That’s what we’ve learned from the games in Malaysia.”
Vietnam’s wushu artists are practicing intensively for the Wushu World Championships in mid-October. They will then have a one-month training course in China before entering the SEA Games.