Vietnam's Chau overcomes cancer and retains 55kg title
Vietnamese defies cancer, retains 55kg title and aims for a breakthrough at next year's Rio Games
At just four months old, she was paralysed from the waist down.
Five years ago, she was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Today, Chau Hoang Tuyet Loan is a 40-year-old powerlifter who has taken part in three Paralympic Games.
And yesterday, she retained her women's 55kg title at the Asean Para Games, beaming with pride when she sang Vietnam's national anthem at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Speaking to the media about her road to recovery, Chau, who resumed training in 2011 after completing her chemotherapy treatment, said: "Along with my coach, who has always been by my side motivating me during my recovery, powerlifting kept me feeling alive.
"There is movement every day - you start practising again, you aim to break your own record, you strive to do better.
"It made me feel positive, and that's why I could fight."
Her lift of 100kg yesterday did not break the Games record of 102kg, which she set in Myanmar last year.
"I wanted the gold and I expected to win because there was only one other competitor and I knew her strength," said Chau. "But I still had to go out there and do my best to achieve it.
"Even when I go to sleep, I see the gold medal."
Chau's compatriot Dang Thi Linh Phuong bagged Vietnam's second gold of the day, setting a new Games record when she won the women's 50kg event with a lift of 93kg.
Thailand's men clinched two golds as well, with Thongsa Marasri rewriting the men's 72kg Games record with his 185kg lift, and Kampa Pongtao winning the men's 80kg event.
The powerful Thai contingent will now focus on a series of qualifying competitions for next year's Rio Paralympic Games, and head coach Siripatt Apanchanit is confident her charges will be successful.
"We've had a hard time preparing for the Para Games this year because one of our coaches died of cancer nine months ago," said Siripatt, 42. "It's going to be a lot of hard work, but I believe we can do it; we will go to the Rio Paralympic Games."
Vietnam's Chau is also aiming for a spot at the 2016 Games.
The Nha Trang native, who finished fifth at the 2004 Games in Athens, fourth in Bejing in 2008 and fifth again in London 2012, is gunning for a medal in Rio next year.
When asked by the Vietnamese media yesterday if she had any intention of retiring, Chau said: "As long as I am alive, I will continue to strive for my country.
"I want to honour all the belief that my family, my coach and my country have had in me, so I will continue."
There is movement every day — you start practising again, you aim to break your own record, you strive to do better. It made me feel positive, and that’s why I could fight.
— Vietnam powerlifter Chau Hoang Tuyet Loan (below, in red), on resuming training in 2011 after completing chemotherapy for throat cancer. She retained the women’s 55kg title yesterday.