Legless man to attend Aquaman Vietnam 2023

By Hoai Phuong   October 6, 2023 | 09:00 pm PT
Disabled athlete Nguyen Hong Loi registered to swim 2 km and run 21 km, the longest distances, at the DNSE Aquaman Vietnam 2023 in Phan Thiet on October 29.

This is the second time Loi from Ho Chi Minh City has challenged himself with an aquathlon.

To prepare for the company, he has been going to Yet Kieu swimming pool at 7 a.m. every day and spending about an hour doing physical exercises.

After 14 years of competing, he has prepared his physical strength and techniques well. But swimming in the ocean requires a lot of concentration and serious practice, according to the lesson plan.

After warming up, Loi would dive into the lake and swim 200 meters gently. He would then take a short break and swin another 800 meters continuously. After 800 meters, he would rest a bit more to prepare for the 1,000-meter distance.

The swimming distance is longer the next day to ensure enough physical strength is accumulated.

He plans to reduce exercise intensity one week before the aquathlon so that the body is not overloaded.

"Waves, weather, and currents are barriers for the uninitiated, especially when I only have one hand. Therefore, being physically prepared is the most important thing, in my opinion," the 36-year-old athlete said.

Hong Loi swims with only one normal arm. Photo courtesy of Loi

Nguyen Hong Loi swims with one full arm. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Hong Loi

Loi is one of the special athletes participating in the DNSE Aquaman Vietnam aquathlon tournament.

Since childhood, he has been disabled in both legs, and his right arm is atrophied. With only a normal left arm, he yet strived to become a national swimmer.

After 14 years of competition, Loi has won dozens of medals, including the 2014 ASEAN Para Games bronze medal.

His forte is short distances in the pool, such as 200 m or 400 m. Long-distance ocean swimming for him is a completely different and difficult experience.

Loi only swam at sea during a triathlon in 2018 and has not returned to this event since.

According to him, deciding to participate in the 2 km swim at Aquaman Vietnam is a big challenge, but it is also exciting because it is an opportunity to satisfy his desire to conquer the sea.

Loi's swimming technique and speed are no different from other people.

He self-assesses that his speed is faster than that of many beginners, thanks to decades of swimming and gym training.

When he first started swimming, he often leaned to one side due to uneven strength in both arms.

Coaches assist in adjusting lesson plans and correcting techniques to orient a straight swimming path.

Loi in his daily practice. Photo courtesy of Loi

Nguyen Hong Loi in his daily practice. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Hong Loi

Although he has not had many opportunities to compete at sea, Loi doesn't feel worried.

According to him, being able to swim with hundreds of people, enjoy the waves, and strive to surpass oneself is already a success.

Furthermore, tournaments like Aquaman Vietnam always have a support team to ensure safety. He set a goal of completing the distance in under an hour.

Participating in the tournament for the first time, Loi is a bit worried about the running part. He hopes to run as far as possible.

Every hobbled step proves desire and effort, which can inspire people to join sports, train hard, and live more actively.

Loi practicing running even without legs. Photo courtesy of Loi

Nguyen Hong Loi practicing running without legs. Photo courtesy of Loi

"Aquaman Vietnam gives me the opportunity to do things I have never done before," he said.

Loi also hopes the tournament in Phan Thiet is the start of his practice, aiming to participate in more biathlon events in the future. "I can pursue sports for decades; everyone can do what they want, as long as they have enough desire."

Nguyen Hong Loi has learned to swim since 2005 and has competed for the team since 2009. He owns a collection of 25 gold medals from large and small sports tournaments.

Loi also draws, designs, and teaches swimming to children, including those with disabilities.

He married designer Tuong Nghia in 2020 and has a daughter. The athlete and his wife have a business booth inside the Ao Dai Museum in HCMCis the biggest tournament for Loi in 2023.

The tournament will be held at NovaWorld Phan Thiet and is expected to attract about 1,000 athletes.

"I hope the image of crossing the sea with thousands of people will erase the boundaries for people with disabilities. The beautiful image after the tournament is the spirit of sportsmanship, love, and the sweat of effort," Loi said.

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