Vietnam's World No. 7 Nguyen Tien Minh tells Ashish Phadnis that he is struggling financially despite his world championship bronze.
What did World championship medal mean to you?
I still don’t believe that I won the bronze medal. Being the first Vietnamese shuttler to win a medal at such level is something unique. Even my country is very proud of my success. Actually I was very tired before the semifinals, and didn’t get much time to recover. Otherwise I could have won the silver medal also.
Despite the lack of proper sports infrastructure in Vietnam you did exceptionally well. What was your motivation?
Actually, I just wanted to play and win for my country. That was my motivation. My father put me into badminton for fitness purpose. But later, when I started looking at it as a career, they opposed it.
They wanted me to take up academics and support the family. However, I pursued my dream. I couldn’t fancy a specialised coach, so I started watching badminton games on YouTube and then would take tips from other players during any tournament.
I made my international debut when I was 24, which is quite late. But thankfully I didn’t suffer a serious injury. Even at this age, I am fit.
After your impressive performance at the international level, you have become an icon, Will this help badminton in Vietnam?
I don’t think so. In Vietnam, many kids love playing badminton but they do not choose it as a career. Many families are poor and can’t even afford good qualify food. The lack of nutrition affects the player’s performance and they hardly go beyond national level.
They get inspired when they look at my performance but they see that I am struggling financially even today, they don’t take up the game, and I won’t be blaming them for that.
So how did you manage to win then?
Like I said earlier, I never thought about food or money. I just wanted to win. The lack of nutrition still affects me and I get tired early. But that didn’t dampen my morale when I am on court.
What you feel about the IBL?
It’s very good. I liked the support badminton players get here in India. Unlike our country, Indian players get good money if they perform well at international level. I feel they have a good future ahead.