The practice of being a multi-sport athlete has become customary; however, it is rare — and surprising, in a way — to see athletes play two sports while representing their countries in major sporting events.
But for Vietnam’s sports icon Nguyen Van Hung, it is nothing new.
The 37-year-old is coming off a stint with Saigon Heat in the ASEAN Basketball League, where he posted norms of 1.3 points and 1.2 boards in 7.8 minutes. And now he can be seen suiting up for the Vietnamese national team in the 2017 SEABA Championship.
He’s now known as a solid presence for the Vietnamese cagers, but for his fellow countrymen, he will always be their nation’s greatest taekwondo artist.
Nguyen is originally a taekwondo jin who has brought plenty of honor to Vietnam. He was a silver medalist in the 2002 Asian Games; a three-time gold medalist at the Southeast Asian Games; and most of all, an Olympian, as he fought in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
With his accolades, the Hanoi-based athlete was clearly a bright star for Vietnam, and a dominant figure in Asian taekwondo. And the latter is the reason why he made the shift from martial arts to basketball.
“I swept the plus-87 kilograms and no one can pass me in international competition. That’s why I trained in another sport,” recalled Nguyen, moments after Vietnam’s 77-44 win over Myanmar Sunday evening.
But that does not mean that he has called it quits on his original sport, though. In fact, he is still active in taekwondo, as he is currently mentoring their national team. “I’m also coaching the national team,” he clarified.
Being able to represent a whole nation in two different events is truly a commendable act. And for Nguyen, he is more than grateful that he has been given the opportunity to play for flag and country, this time in various cagefests.
“I was playing basketball when I was a child. Now, I can play as a player of the National Team and the ABL. I’m very happy,” shared the athletic forward. “I’m not just happy for me but also for my teammates.
“I feel very proud to represent the country,” said Nguyen.