Great achievements over recent years
Most notably, last year saw Thanh An win both the singles and team events during the Vietnam National Fencing Championships 2020.
The 29-year-old fencer says 2019 also marked an unforgettable year for him as he raised the national flag when leading the Vietnamese delegation at the opening ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines, during which he bagged gold medals in both the singles and team events.
His successful performance at the SEA Games 2019 serves to encourage him to continue competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
Difficulties in life drive him forward
Alongside his work as a fencer, the Hanoi native still struggles to earn a living through his online bubble tea and coffee business.
Thanh An confides that whilst each job provides him new experiences and lessons, he does not consider them to be his main job.
Back in 2018 he set up a business with an automatic coffee machine and sold products online. His customers typically order through a fan page, with the majority made up of relatives, colleagues, athletes, and friends.
He recalls that he has received plenty of support from his wife in both his business and athletics career.
Online purchases help to support his life as his main job as a fencer doesn’t make ends meet for his family. However, he has never given up dreaming of winning a ticket to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
Thanh An was the only Vietnamese representative at the Men’s Sabre Fencing World Cup which was held on Feb. 21 - 22, 2020 in Poland.
He says that he initially felt considerable anxiety when he saw a huge number of athletes from other countries, including 12 Italian and eight Japanese competitors, not to mention many doctors, coaches, psychologists, and experts who accompanied them. In contrast, Thanh An is his own coach, doctor, and psychologist.
Unfortunately, he failed to claim any medal and therefore would not be able to make it to the Olympic Games through this route.
However, he is hopeful of getting the second chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Being among the top two in the Asian region and competing in a play-off round for the Olympics in mid-April this year are set to offer new chances for him to fulfil his dream.
Ahead of this challenge, he will mainly focus on new techniques, try to sharpen his skills, do research on rivals, and improve his physical and mental strength ahead of taking on new opponents.
Phung Le Quang, head of the fencing section of the Vietnam Administration of Sports and Physical Training, says Thanh An has his great ability to win a place at the Olympics. Providing that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is brought under control, the fencer could compete in one or two international tournaments in order to accumulate points ahead of the qualifiers for the Olympics.
In the event he gets enough points, he will not need to participate in the qualifying round and will instead move to the final round.
Whilst Thanh An is an outstanding Vietnamese fencer, he has no rivals in the region and is the most competent athlete in his sport locally.
In the two most recent Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, he won gold medals in both the singles and team events.
Due to his ability, Thanh An was chosen to carry the national flag for the Vietnamese sports delegation during the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics, the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2017, the Asian Games 2018, and the 30th SEA Games in 2019.