Vietnam's legendary runner passes away at 86

By Nhat Tao   July 1, 2024 | 01:29 am PT
Legendary Vietnamese runner Bui Luong, who held many unprecedented national records, died on Sunday aged 86.

Before being hospitalized for a short time and then passing away, Luong still ran 5 km every morning and instructed young runners in classes at Thanh Xuan Park or Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.

He was born in 1939 in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1955, he moved to Hai Phong to study. He started jogging to both dispel his homesickness and train his will, energy and maintain his health.

Runner Bui Luong (L) at the 2022 VnExpress Marathon Nha Trang. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Runner Bui Luong (L) at the 2022 VnExpress Marathon Nha Trang. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

Luong is considered the first and greatest icon of Vietnamese running, throughout many decades of competition and coaching.

In 1957, he competed for the first time and finished third in the 5,000 m run, also known as the all-northern long-distance run, at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi. The next year, he attended the Tien Phong Newspaper cross-country tournament and won a silver medal. In 1961, he won the gold medal in the same tournament. From there, he entered his peak period.

Luong was only 1.62 m tall and weighed 48 kg, but held the national 5,000 m and 10,000 m records for 14 years, from 1961-1975, before his junior, athlete Nguyen Van Thuyet broke the record.

After 20 years of competition, in 1977, when he was 38 and had two children, Luong went to university and then became coach of the Hanoi athletics team. In 1999, he retired but continued to work with Hanoi Athletics, the national athletics team, the border guard athletics team and Binh Phuoc Athletics until 2020.

Bui Luong when he was still competing

Bui Luong when he was still competing. Archive photo provided to VnExpress

Through more than 40 years as a coach, Luong has trained many generations of talented athletes, such as Dang Thi Teo, the national marathon gold medalist, Doan Nu Truc Van, the SEA Games 22 10,000 m gold medalist, Nguyen Chi Dong and Nguyen Thi Hoa, the SEA Games 22 marathon silver medalists, Hoang Nguyen Thanh, the SEA Games 30 marathon gold medalist and the current marathon record holder in Vietnam.

In 2016, Luong was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to honor his contributions to Vietnamese sports. He was the first person to be honored with this award.

After completely retiring from professional coaching, Luong kept his passion for athletics and jogging alive, dedicating himself to giving instructions to anyone who loved running, at Thanh Xuan Park or Hoan Kiem Lake.

He kept a healthy lifestyle by participating in 5 km runs in many domestic events.

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