Disabled weightlifter auctions Paralympics gold medal for neighbor with cancer

By Trong Nghia, Thuy Quynh   October 24, 2019 | 05:42 am PT
Disabled weightlifter auctions Paralympics gold medal for neighbor with cancer
Le Van Cong celebrates after setting a world record in the men's 49kg class at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Photo by Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino.
Le Van Cong, 35, is auctioning his 2016 Rio Paralympics Games weightlifting gold medal to help his neighbor's daughter fight liver cancer.

According to his social media post on October 21, the auction will accept bids until October 31 and the money raised will go towards meeting treatment expenses for 16-year-old Doan Thi Bich Huong, his neighbor's daughter in Xuan Thoi Thuong Commune, Hoc Mon District, Saigon.

Huong was diagnosed with liver cancer in July. The 11th grader’s health has deteriorated and she is not able to move around with comfort.

Her family runs a product packaging service at home, earning around VND100,000 ($4.32) a day.

Living just a few blocks away, Vietnam's first Paralympic gold medalist was moved by her plight and discussed with his wife ways to support Huong’s family, who also hail from his native Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam.

Since there was nothing else that was valuable in his house, Cong decided to auction the gold medal that he had won at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, a major international multi-sports event for athletes with disabilities.

He consulted and got the agreement of his wife, teachers and colleagues to go ahead with his plan.

In his most recent social media post, someone had bid VND40 million (around $1,730) for the medal.

Cong practiced continuously for four to six hours a day for months for the Paralympics. Near the day of the competition, he had a fever and almost gave up.

"Therefore, this gold medal is a message that I want to convey to Huong: 'never give up.'"

"This medal is part of my body. I hope more people will understand and help out."

Doan Nguyen Tri, Huong's father, said that he was very grateful for and surprised by his friend's gesture.

"In the darkest times, Cong is really a motivation for my family to keep on trying," Tri said.

Cong, born with deformed legs, set a new world record in the men's 49kg class by lifting 183kg at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, then broke it again at the 2017 Mexico World Para Powerlifting in the same category by lifting 183.5kg. He is still the world record holder in the event.

Cong runs an electronics repair service at home while his wife runs a small shop. He lives off a monthly income of about VND5 million ($216).

At the moment, he is focusing on preparing for the next Paralympic Games.

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