Vietnam is pinning its hope of securing a medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics on 21-year-old weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan, who has overcome significant hardships to become a top global competitor.

Hailing from an underdeveloped area in the central province of Binh Thuan, his family moved to southern Ho Chi Minh City to eke out a living when Tuan was about three years old.

After his mother was killed in a traffic accident shortly after the move, his eldest sister Thach Thi Giang Huong at 16 years old had to single-handedly raise her siblings while Tuan’s father remained in their hometown. To assist his sister, Tuan dropped out of school after the sixth grade.

Things changed when, in 2006, a neighbour asked Tuan to join him in playing sports, gradually developing Tuan’s fondness for weightlifting.

Recognising his talent, coach Huynh Huu Chi sent Tuan to HCM City’s weightlifting team. After three years under the coach’s training, Tuan became a member of the national team and continually performed well at domestic and foreign tournaments.

His most memorable win was his gold medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore when he was just 16 years old.

In 2014, Tuan set two world records at the Junior World Championships in Russia’s Kazan and was honoured as the best athlete of the tournament. He also secured a silver medal at the Asian Games in the Republic of Korea along with one gold and two silver medals at the World Weightlifting Championships the same year.

The weightlifter is under intensive training as he is hoped to be the first Vietnamese gold medallist at the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Brazil.

This year, he will focus on the Southeast Asian Championships scheduled to take place in Thailand in June, the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Nepal one month later, and the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships in the US in November.

Among them, the world tournament, which is also part of the 2016 Summer Olympics qualifying rounds, will be an opportunity for Tuan to secure a place at the Games’ 56-kilogramme competition category.

Coach Chi said the “Olympic dream” will not come easily, as Tuan will have to vie against Om Yun Chol of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and a number of Chinese athletes among the world’s top weightlifters.

Chi said Tuan’s performance and his psychological competition preparedness is improving.

Besides practising weightlifting, he has also spent time studying, Chi said, adding that Tuan’s accomplishments are thanks to his strong will, patience, and passion.

As a result of such accomplishments, Tuan was recently selected as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Citizens in 2014 by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee.-VNA