Every kid dreams to be on the Olympic podium one day. This dream came true three years ago to young German gymnast Marcel Nguyen. He even surprised himself when he won two silver medals in the All-Around event and in Parallel Bars and now he is waiting for the next Olympic Games in Rio 2016 in order to add some medals to his collection. But the way to the medals was long and tough.
Nguyen started his career at age of four at 1991. Four years later, he joined to the regional training center in Munich and since 1997, he was part of the squad perspective and he moved quickly from the D- to B-squad. Since 2002, he has started for the German Junior National Team.
His first main achievement came in 2005 when the young German became to be a German junior champion on parallel bars, runner-up on rings and third in the vault. In the same year he had his first experience in the world cup, but he finished only at the 16th place, but since then he has won 11 medals in main events: two bronze medals in American Cups, two bronze, one silver and three gold medals in the European Championships, a bronze medal in the World Championships and his main achievement is his two silver medals from London Olympic Games 2012.
This week, Marcel Nguyen spoke exclusively to Aleksejus Podpruginas from Baltic Review about his career, his Olympic medals and the future plans.
BR: You started your career at age of four. Why gymnastics and not any other more popular sport in Germany like football?
Marcel Nguyen: I was going to gymnastics together with my mother where she did gymnastics and I accompanied her. I liked this kind of sport, from being a pretty little kid, that is why I started my career as a gymnast.
In the last Olympics you were close to the gold, but not enough. Do you feel disappointed for not reaching the gold or you are happy with your silver medals?
Of course, I was very happy to get the medals. I couldn’t even imagine that I can get any medal in the Olympics. That is why I felt no disappointment having silver in my hands.
During your career in sports, you have also been a corporal in the German army. How you managed to combine your military service and high professional sport?
Well, today I am not a soldier any more. Anyway, the German army is a very special institution with many features to join. My duty was not anything like in a real army in other countries. Germany gives opportunity to its athletes to join army with a contract from time to time. Regularly but not on daily basis. That was a great deal for me to learn the army basics with not much digress from the trainings.
What you brought from your military experience to the sports and what from the sports to the army?
Oh. It is hard to say. I would say discipline. But I’m still not sure from which duty it came to which. Probably both, because the army and the sports are requiring a strong discipline. What I can say is that the discipline helped me to keep fit all the time.
What is it doing to you to wear the German uniform in the army and in the tournaments?
I’m proud to compete for the fame of my country. I’m sure same like many other athletes, though.
Your first major title was in the world championship in 2007. Describe the feelings that you had when you with the German team won the bronze.
Well, it was a bronze medal, I wouldn’t call it a title. The title is only for the winner. The moment itself was memorable. My dream has finally come true, and Stuttgart becomes my gate to the successful future.
Which characteristics you need to have in order to be a good gymnast?
The athlete should to have ambitions, perseverance, and to be diligent and hard-working person as well. Discipline makes also much sense.
Describe me your diet. You probably have to eat only healthy food.
Of course not! My normal training lasts 6 hours per day (and I have 6 training a week) where I loose plenty calories that is why diet is saturated with protein and carbonates to refill power. Most of the foods are still healthy meanwhile. Or at least I try to follow the idea of healthy eating.
What are your predictions and expectations for Rio 2016?
My target for Rio is a medal, of course, and I’m sure it is real. I have to work hard and do much for that still. I go on with my rehabilitation after ligament injury and do all my best to stay fit. Predictions are very hard in sport. Today you are king, but injuries and other misfortune can make every king just a visitor. I work on myself and hope to show a world-level gymnastics in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
When you are in the action on the bars, the rings or the floor, what is running through your mind?
It’s strange but nothing special. There is no time really to think about something different except the two bars or the two rings and balance which I should keep.
Which advice you can give to the young athletes that are dreaming to be in your place one day?
Believe in your dreams. Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.
In the end, you are very well – known athlete, but say something to the readers that no one knows about you.
Hm, interesting question. Not many people know that I am wearing contact lenses. (Laugh).
Nguyen has the ability and the experience in order to get a medal in the Olympics. But before the Olympics, Nguyen will try himself in the European Championships, this April in Montpelier, France and later in the World Championships that will take place this year in Glasgow, Scotland and he will hope to bring to Germany at least one medal. Well, after summarizing his career, he will get more than one medal. We can be sure about that.
Marcel Nguyen in action
On Harizontal Bars
On the Rings
On the Parallel Bars
Nguyen shows that he knows the work on the Floor event too