Sports

Huy on target at Asian Games

After finishing on top for his first time at the largest Asian Games in history, boasting about 12,000 competitors, Phạm Quang Huy has now set his sight on the Olympics Games in Paris next year.

Asian Games

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Phạm Quang Huy competing to win gold in the men’s 10m air pistol at the 19th Asian Games. VNA/

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Thanh Hà

HÀ NỘI — After the final shots were fired, Phạm Quang Huy put his pistol down and heard loud cheering from teammates and coaches. Turning back and looking at the scoreboard, he saw he was the Asian Games (ASIAD) winner.

“When it was over, I felt like I just finished practising at home. But the noise woke me up, and I was like ‘Wow, I won gold’. I knew I did a fantastic job bringing Việt Nam a first gold medal at an ASIAD,” said Huy.

Huy won the men’s 10m air pistol after beating South Korean shooter Lee Won Ho in the one-two final at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre in Hangzhou, China, ending Việt Nam’s nearly 40-year title drought in this event.

After finishing on top for his first time at the largest Asian Games in history, boasting about 12,000 competitors, Huy has now set his sight on the Olympics Games in Paris next year.

Family of marksmen

Huy was born in 1996 in Hải Phòng and raised in an environment of guns, bullets and targets as both his parents were in the national shooting team.

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Phạm Quang Huy with his gold in the men’s 10m air pistol at the 19th Asian Games. — VNA/

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His father Phạm Cao Sơn won 11 pistol gold medals at the SEA Games. His mother Đặng Thị Hằng is well-known for her ability with the rifle.

As national athletes, they had to live and practise in the national sport centre in Hà Nội. At age two, Huy followed them to live in this sporting environment. However, he only focused fully on shooting from the age of 16.

“It was when I was in high school. One year after experiencing the sport life I decided to be a pro athlete,” Huy said.

“Previously, I also enjoyed hip hop dance and skateboarding. These sports helped strengthen my fitness, patience and mentality when performing in front of a crowd or in the public area.

“I can’t explain, but I just knew that shooting was my passion and I wanted to spend more time on it,” he said.

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Phạm Quang Huy (left) and his coach Hoàng Xuân Vinh. Huy is the Asian Games champion who plans to reach his coach’s best achievement of an Olympic gold. — VNA/

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His father was Huy’s first coach and idol.

“My parents were professional athletes and engaged in sports since childhood. I hoped to participate in competitions and get good results like my parents, or be even better,” he said.

As a coach, Sơn also took responsibility for other athletes. He was busy and couldn’t spend all his time on his son. Huy had to train hard and took advantage of the time his father was around to practise.

“The first few years were the most difficult, as most people don’t have good results at the beginning. Instead of feeling sad, I turned it into motivation to work harder,” Huy said.

“The first national competition was a milestone for me, winning four golds and two bronzes in 2017. From then on, I became really confident.”

Huy was called to the national team in 2019 under South Korean coach Park Chung Gun.

Shortly after joining the national team, he drove Park crazy and was dropped from the team.

“I was still young and often argued with Park. I had a fierce discussion with him because I thought I was already good,” Huy said.

After three months at home, Huy realised his mistakes. Luckily, head coach Nguyễn Thị Nhung saw potential in him and gave the young marksman another opportunity.

“I was determined to prove my love for shooting to my coaches,” he said.

Sweet gold medal

Huy did not initially have a chance to shine internationally as he competed in the same event as Việt Nam’s only Olympic champion Hoàng Xuân Vinh.

When Vinh moved to work as a coach in 2020, it became time for Huy to prove his ability.

Huy not only won a bronze medal in the men’s team event, but also advanced to a big tournament in the Hangzhou Games for the first time in his career.

“The first shots were not good. I was not stable and focused enough. However, I quickly regained my confidence and maintained peak performance until the last bullet,” Huy said.

“All I thought was to stay calm down and not let anything else influence me. In the two shots against the South Korean competitor, I knew I was competing for the gold, but I didn’t allow myself to think about it being a champion, ignoring everything and only focusing on shooting the last two bullets well.”

Huy said he is back in training to prepare for the biggest competition, the Paris Olympics next year.

“My goal is like other athletes. I want to stand on the highest podium of all. I will have to be ready for all events, including the Olympics. I want to win a medal and even break records at the Olympics, a dream that my father could not manage, but I will,” said Huy.

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Phạm Quang Huy (centre) and his teammates take bronze in the men’s team event. — VNA/

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“It is Huy’s best result in his career, and also the best-ever for Việt Nam’s shooting in the Asian Games. His success gave me a feeling of sheer delight as I am his coach and father,” said Sơn.

“As a coach, I know that Huy has a top talent for shooting. He loves his career and is dedicated to it. He can develop stronger and reach higher-level competitions.”

Meanwhile, coach Vinh said the gold medal has made Huy a world elite athlete.

“He overcame high pressure and did an impressive job,” said Vinh.

“The Asian Games can be considered a mini-version of the Olympics in shooting. Many powerful athletes took part in it. In his category, Huy was against world defending champion Zhang Bowen of China who is world No 5 and World Cup winner Sarabjot Singh of India who is world No 4.

“This first Asian Games gold for Việt Nam will be a strong motivation for my marksmen to be more enthusiastic, confident, and courageous in the big arenas.”

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