Fencer An to be Vietnam’s flag bearer at Rio Games hinh anh 1Vu Thanh An (right) practises with his coach Sergey Koryazhkin in Hanoi some days before leaving for Rio de Janeiro (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vu Thanh An will be Vietnam’s flag bearer at the Rio Olympic Games, which is due to open on August 5.

“It is an honour for any athlete, I know, and also a responsibility for me. I will have to try my best for the trust that people have put in me,” An said.

An will be competing in his first Olympics in the men’s sabre event.

He is one of 23 athletes of Vietnam Team who will compete in 10 sport in Brazil.

Born in 1992 into a family where nobody played a sport, An’s turning point to become a sportsman was a surprise.

He had no idea about fencing, but had an interest in a sword, and that made him agree to join the Hanoi Fencing Club in 2007, when he was 15 years old.

“Like many boys I liked to own a sword like the many knights that I saw on television. And fencing brought me that feeling. But when I wore the mask, the amour and held the sword, I knew it was not so easy,” An said.

Fencing totally changed his life. From a boy who enjoyed school and football with friends, An had to follow a strict schedule of training and competing.

“It looked simple, but to manage the sword as I wanted was really a challenge that took me a year of hard practice,” he said.

“Sometimes, it was so exhausting that I wanted to quit, but my teammates and coaches helped me a lot and made me what I am today,” he said.

Three years later, An became one of the leading fencers in Vietnam in the sabre event. In the same year that he joined the national team, An competed as a 19-year-old at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2011 and took home two silvers medals.

Four years later, An improved and defeated all five rivals to take his individual title before he jumped to the podium again for the team event at last year’s SEA Games in Singapore in June. He then pocketed a gold medal at the Asian U-23 Fencing Championship.

An reached the continental level when he won a bronze medal at the Asian competition in April, and then grabbed an Olympic berth after the Asia-Pacific zonal qualification matches in China.

“Winning an Olympic berth made me happy but there was pressure as well,” An said.

An, who is world No 22, and three his teammates are in Brazil practicing their last steps ahead of their competitions.-VNA