Le Van Cong was born prematurely in 1984 with legs that were too small to use, and grew up experiencing stigma and social prejudice in his local village in Ha Tinh Province. Everyday, his mother or father would have to carry him to school, until one day, Le Van Cong decided to make his own way. He would leave early in the morning to avoid prying eyes, and would carry himself 4km using just his hands. After finishing school he went on to study at a vocational school and became an Electrical Engineer.
To keep fit he exercised at the Tan Binh Training Centre where he was spotted by a weightlifting coach. He began powerlifting at the age of 22 and after only 2 months of training he won his first competitive Silver medal.
“I was born unidentified. Sport gives me a name and a life.” - Le Van Cong
After training for only 2 years, Le Van Cong was invited to join the Vietnamese Powerlifting team. In the same year, 2007, he won a Gold medal in the 48Kg weight class at the ASEAN Para Games with a 152.2 Kg lifting record.
Unfortunately, an accident in 2010 meant that he had to stop training due to a shoulder injury. His doctor told him that his career was over, but Le Van Cong refused to give up, and after three years of hard work he managed to overcome his injury and began competing again. Le Van Cong returned to competition even stronger. He continued to achieve success after success, breaking the World Record not once, not twice, but three times.
Gaining momentum in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Paralympics, he also won Gold at the ASEAN Para Games 2014 , the Asian Para Games 2014 and the Asian Championship in 2015.
Going into the 2016 Paralympics thirty-two year old Le Van Cong said “he was slightly nervous” because he was carrying a shoulder injury. Despite his nerves and his injury, Le Van Cong brought glory to Vietnam by winning a Gold medal in the men’s 49Kg class with a perfect lift of a 183Kg thereby creating a new World and Paralympic Record.
The world’s eyes were on this inspirational Paralympian when he lifted 4 times his own body weight and moved from Silver medal position to Gold with his final lift of the competition. This was the first Gold medal won by a Vietnamese athlete in the history of the Paralympics. As a result, Le Van Cong has been hailed as the new ‘legend’ of Vietnam.
Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, said: “His results have not only brought glory to the country, but reflects the will, perseverance and determination of the Vietnamese youth to overcome difficulties and rise up.”
Whilst winning Gold at the Paralympics is arguably the peak of any athlete's career, Mr Le Van Cong is clearly not ready to retire. We can’t wait to see where his ambition takes him next!
Our students had the opportunity to listen to Le Van Cong talk about his experiences and the passion that motivates him. As you might expect they asked a number of probing questions illustrating how inspired they were by his achievements, and his obvious perseverance even in the face of unexpected challenges. Le Van Cong was very complimentary about the welcome he got from our students. He was overwhelmed with the warmth of support he received, even as he was leaving the building as students spontaneously burst into applause at the very sight of him.
We would like to thank Mr Le Van Cong for spending the time visiting us, for his inspirational words and for being so generous with his medal! Holding a (very heavy) Paralympic Gold medal will be a moment that many of us will treasure forever.
“Nothing can break you unless you let it, push your limits and change your life forever!” - Le Van Cong
Lucy Glynn, Online Marketing Officer