Sports

Boxer earns Olympic dream after decade of effort

Võ Thị Kim Ánh has made her lifetime dream come true — becoming an Olympian — after she grabbed an official spot at the Paris Olympics’ World Qualification in Italy last week.

Boxing

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Võ Thị Kim Ánh and her certificate of qualifying to the Paris Olympic Games 2024. Photo of ASBL

With her slim and small figure, Võ Thị Kim Ánh does not look like your average athlete. But her long powerful arms and agile moves tell another story.

She has made her lifetime dream come true — becoming an Olympian — after she grabbed an official spot at the Paris Olympics’ World Qualification in Italy last week.

“I still can’t believe that I have reached my goal,” said Ánh, 27.

“My opponent in the deciding match, Islem Ferchichi, was strong. She had long arms and powerful punches, leaving me a bit overwhelmed at first. However, thanks to my careful preparation and tactics, I overcame her. I am over the moon with the achievement, but not allowed to rest. It is time for the next tougher stage. I must be a better version for the Olympics.”

Strong family support

Born in a sport-free family in An Giang Province. However, she loved sports from when she was a little girl.

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Võ Thị Kim Ánh (left) seen in action against Islem Ferchichi of Tunisia in the first World Qualification’s women’s 54kg quarter-finals on March 11 in Italy. Photo of ASBL

She took part in different events and came under radar of coach Đỗ Thị Thu An at a provincial Sports Games in 2012 when she was 15.

“Even though her body is quite slim, and she was underweight for her age, Ánh had long arms and inner strength. She was also especially determined in competition. These qualities were ideal for a powerful martial artist,” An said. “I believed in her potential and convinced Ánh and her family to try boxing.”

Ánh met with huge difficulties in the first period of professional practising, especially as boxing required high physical strength.

However, the hard-working girl caught up with the tough training intensity and developed well.

“Despite the hard training at the provincial centre, she spent almost all of her time at home boxing, even on the weekend,” Ánh’s mother Phạm Thị Thơm said.

“I worried about her as she would be tired of training, but she was devoted to her passion, so my family and I strongly supported her.”

Thơm said in the last few days, the family welcomed many people to congratulate Ánh on her Olympic slot.

“We are very proud and happy for her achievement. Even though we are not well-off, when Ánh has a little time to return home, we will have a small party to celebrate her Olympic ticket,” she said.

Ánh also confirmed that her family gave her the strong foundation that helped her follow boxing as a career.

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Võ Thị Kim Ánh (right) is announced winner of the match against Hungarian Hanna Lakotar in the first World Qualification’s women’s 54kg second round in Italy.

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Photo Nguyễn Thị Tâm

“My grandpa supported me the most when I chose boxing, and he is the first one I think about after any win or loss,” Ánh said.

“My family are strong motivation that pushes me to work harder and harder every day.”

Olympic dream

“Ánh was physically superior to all female teammates. Her sparring partners were always men whose ability was equal to Ánh,” said coach Võ Trung Hiếu of An Giang, who coached Ánh for eight years.

Hiếu said it was Ánh’s meticulousness in training, living and preparation before matches that helped her rarely get injured. She is completely ready and in the mood for competition.

Years on from her first day with boxing, reigning national champion Ánh has collected four national titles and gold at the Thailand Open in 2022 in the 54kg class.

To prepare for Olympic qualification, Ánh and her teammates had no rest, working through the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.

“I was prepared carefully for the tournament, working hard every day. The ticket was a great bonus for me. It is my best memory and achievement in my 10 years as a boxer,” Ánh said.

National head coach Nguyễn Như Cường said: “The Olympic qualification was difficult because all rivals prepared well. There were 40 athletes in Ánh’s category. Every single match went beyond the limits of the fighters. Their effort is appreciated.

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Võ Thị Kim Ánh (left) punches Irish Magno of the Philippines at the first round match of the Thailand Open 2022. Ánh wins and goes on to take gold medal. Photo courtersy of ASBL

“I often tell my athletes that we plan matches so that boxers can come up with the best results, so even if there is only a one-in-a-thousand chance, they still have to try to win. Ánh is a talented athlete. She is resilient, intelligent, agile and diligent. She is shy in communication but fierce in competition. Her fighting style, moves and attacks are diverse, creating great challenges for her rivals.”

Cường said that a winning ticket to attend the Olympics was a dream come true for all coaches and athletes. It took several months for Ánh to ensure the highest achievements of her career so far.

Ánh said: “My coaches will have plans for me. The better technique and physique I have, the more confident I am. I will equip myself with the spirit of ‘doing my best’ and ‘never stepping back’ to achieve the highest results.”

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