Badminton player Nhat Nguyen at the OCI Tokyo Summer Scholarship announcement. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

NHAT Nguyen has been named as one of the Irish athletes set to receive an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship to help with his qualification and preparations for Tokyo 2020.
The badminton star who attends St David’s CBS in Artane is one of 12 hopefuls set to receive $625 per month from the Olympic Council for as long as qualification for the Olympic Games is still a possibility. Athletes will also receive up to $5,000 to help with travel expenses for qualification events.
Nguyen moved to Dublin with his family in 2006 and first picked up a racket thanks to his father’s love for the sport. He doesn’t, however, get his talent for the game from his father.
“He wasn’t the best!” Nguyen quipped. “He was just an average player but he loved the sport.”
With sports like badminton more popular on the opposite side of the world than on these shores, travelling to events can be costly so the new funding will be a big help.
“It will help me a lot with the tournament costs.
“I don’t really pay that much to go abroad and play in tournaments, I pay a little bit, but with this scholarship I don’t have to pay anything because Badminton Ireland will pay for me and I have this to cover me also. It saves my parents a lot of money as well!”
Training is a big part of Nguyen’s life with the 17-year-old rising at 5.45am in order to fit in two sessions a day.
“To be honest, training is more my priority. I try to do homework sometimes but my teacher knows that my main focus is badminton so she’s more lenient.”
With very few players competing at the elite level in Ireland, it can be tough for Nguyen to get the regular workouts he needs.
“That’s the problem with Ireland, we don’t have many players.
“There are only five or six people in the national centre, which is where I train, so sometimes when I finish school I have to go abroad for a week or two just to play a better standard of players.”
Nguyen will sit his Leaving Certificate next year before turning his entire focus to playing badminton.
“I won’t be going to college; badminton is all I want to focus on. I’m playing for a club in Germany at the moment so I’m making good money for a 17-year-old.”
Nguyen will have a busy 2018 on his hands with three big tournaments set to take him to different corners of the world; the European Juniors in Estonia, Youth Olympics in Argentina and World Juniors in Toronto.
Nguyen’s ultimate aim is reaching Tokyo but he has no intention of going there just to make up the numbers.
“I want to do well in the Olympics. I don’t want to go there just to say I went to the Olympics. I want to medal in the Olympics and win gold but it is a long process.”