Hung is one of two Vietnamese gymnasts seeking a berth in the Olympics this summer. The 27-year-old will join female teammate Phan Thi Ha Thanh in Brazil a month from now for the Olympic qualifying tournament.
To prepare for this tournament, Hung has been training hard in China since the beginning of the year and could not join his family for the traditional lunar New Year festival.
Despite his homesickness, Hung, like many other Vietnamese professional athletes, is stepping up his efforts to achieve his bigger goals this year.
"Of course I felt incomplete not being able to join my family during Tet. But I hope that my efforts will pay off with a ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Not many opportunities are left for me so I’ll focus on my biggest goal now instead of spending time on my other personal needs," Hung said.
Spending Tet away from home has become familiar to Hưng who has had to train away from home since he was just 7.
"One of my unforgettable memories is when I was nine years old. Our coaches returned to Vietnam during Tet so the other junior athletes and I just went to the park together and watched the fireworks to welcome the lunar New Year. We did not have any Tet banquets, just some snacks for children,” he shared.
Hung’s mother, Ms. Ngo Thi Van Hong, said, “I locked my house and lived at my mother’s house for 6 months because I could not help missing my son, especially during Tet. I cried at every meal because I missed him so much."
She shared, "The first year Hung trained abroad, he did not return home during Tet. The next year when he returned home, he did not recognize me. He said I looked different. I held him in my arms and cried a lot."
The life of a gymnast has made Hung into a man with an iron will who never gives up. Hung was once diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bones and joints and thought he had to give up his career.
Thanks to appropriate medical treatment and a strong will, he returned to training upon his recovery and won still more impressive achievements, including a ticket to the 2012 Olympics and a gold medal at the 2013 World Gymnastics Championships in Slovenia.
At the 2015 World Championship in Scotland, Hung made history after one of his techniques was officially named after him and added to the Men’s Gymnastics Code of Points of the International Gymnastics Federation.
His creation was one of eight new elements recognized by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) Men’s Technical Committee.
Hung stressed, “I think that technique was not really difficult but no one had done it before. So I accepted all the risks and tried to perform it and I succeeded. I’m very happy that my technique has been recognized and added to the Men’s Gymnastics Code of Points."
"I hope Vietnam’s gymnastics will have a brighter future and more Vietnamese athletes will have their techniques recognized internationally,” he said.
Hung went to the 2012 Olympics in London. If he wins a ticket to the 2016 Olympics, it will be his second time at the world’s most renowned sporting event and probably the final Olympic Games in his career.