Frenchman wins second vovinam gold medal

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Frenchman Vicens Noll won the gold medal in the long stick performance at the 2nd World Vovinam (Vietnamese martial arts) Championships at Ho Chi Minh City's Phu Tho Sports Center Friday.

It was his second consecutive gold medal in the event, after winning the inaugural event in 2009.

Noll said he was happy to have a chance to compete in Vovinam in the land of its origin.

He attributed his achievement to his mother's passion for the sport and the effort he put in for more than 10 years.

Noll said, "I went to a vovinam training center in France because of my mother. She is a vovinam martial artist herself and thinks vovinam is not only good for health but also has something magical that attracts people.

"It is her passion for vovinam that inspired me to learn this sport. I feel very happy to be at the training center every evening because I think it makes people helpful and it makes them work towards the true, the good and the beautiful."

Noll said he thinks vovinam has a greater effect than judo and taekwondo, which are already developed in France.

When he first practiced vovinam, he learned new things every day and his trainers showed him everything in detail, he said.

He said, "What was difficult for me was the time I had to practice. I couldn't quit my job in the atomic waste treatment area for the national electricity company to practice martial arts, and I didn't want to give up vovinam, either.

"Therefore, I spoke to my managers to arrange my schedule so that I could practice vovinam four times a week."

Noll said he didn't feel he had enough of vovinam in France, so he flew to Vietnam in 1998 to learn more. He met Master Nguyen Van Chieu, vice chairman of Vietnam Vovinam Federation.

After five years, Noll was good enough to compete in contests. He has been a champion in France and all over Europe over the past 10 years.

Noll also wanted to train young kids in the sport, so he opened a vovinam training center in Ardeche near the city of Marseille in 2002. His center, which is called Hoa Lu, now has 120 students.

His hard training regimen led to an injury in his lungs and he had to have part of them cut off. The doctor said he shouldn't practice very hard but he is too passionate about the sport to give it up.

After winning the gold at Ho Chi Minh City's Phu Tho Sports Center on Friday, Noll smiled and said, "Vovinam exists in my blood now. Having a chance to compete and take a win will inspire me to work harder to propagate the sport in France."

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