Remember the name Nhat Nguyen, you are going to be hearing a lot about him 7 months ago

Remember the name Nhat Nguyen, you are going to be hearing a lot about him

Nhat Nguyen excudes confidence, but don't get it twisted, he's not cocky, he's confident.

As he prepares to represent Ireland in this years Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Nguyen is very matter of fact when asked what his goals going into the tournament are;

"My goal is to medal, I know if I play my best I can, but in badminton it's kind of on the day and how you feel and how comfortable you are, but on my day I can definitely medal."


Nguyen fully understands that in a sport like badminton that is played all year round with tournaments happening every week, he can't possibly dominate the sport. One week you're up, the next week you're down.

"I think it is very regular, you have one really good week, but you can never play your best all the time that's what I've realised.

You can strive to play your best but it's not possible as human beings you can never play your best all of the time."


The rising star knows this more than anyone, only last year he went into the Irish Open as the favourite, the home-town star, who many expected to take home victory. Unfortunately though, things did not go to plan.

"So, I beat him the week before and then in the Irish Open finals I felt a nervous pressure,

"I was the favourite, I was 17, Irish, in my home tournament final, everybody expecting me to win, it was a different pressure than I felt before, so I didn't play my best and the better man on the day won."


To Nguyen, it's how you can deal with the defeats that set you apart. He knows that in order to reach the top he can't dwell on opportunities that have passed him by.

"I think it's very important to leave it to one side and move on. Obviously, you're very disappointed but you have to leave it behind at some stage you can't dwell on it. 

"There is no off-season, you have tournaments literally every week, you have to move on." 


Who better for the young man to learn from though than Sam and Chloe Magee, two Olympians who represented our country on the international stage time and time again.

Nguyen knows that, he is fully aware that without their help, he wouldn't be where is today.

"They have won medals at European games and went to Olympics, so they have great experience, I get on with Sam really well he's kind of like my mentor,

"He teaches me areas of the game that I need to work on and different aspects. It's really good to get some knowledge from them. If wasn't for them I wouldn't be as inspired to be as good as I am or I want to be."


Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen moved to Ireland at six years of age, returning to the land of his birth for the first time only last year. He admits though, that growing up in Vietnam he didn't even like badminton.

In fact, moving to Ireland was the catalyst that pushed him into the sport.

"My dad was playing in Vietnam, and I didn't like badminton at all.

"When we moved to Ireland I followed my dad everywhere and he was playing at the local club with friends and that's how I got started really. I was holding the racket every day then I started to really enjoy it, eventually I fell in love with the sport."


It didn't take long for him to figure out he wanted to reach the top of the sport. One taste of victory was all it took.

"When I won my first competition at under-eleven it really inspired me,

"As a kid I would visualise these things in my head and say I can actually do this.

"I always had that vision in my head. I still have it that one day I will reach the top." 

He knew from then that his future lay with the sport of badminton, and that he was going to make it happen. The young man just recently received his Leaving Cert results, however college was never on the agenda.

"No, I actually wanted to quit school in my last year, because I was never in school I was always travelling I wanted to stop

"But my parents, who were very lenient, were like there's only one more year and to finish it just in case, just to have a back up plan.

"I never wanted to go to university I always wanted to play badminton."


Now that he has achieved what he wanted growing up, badminton is his full-time profession, does he enjoy the attention that comes with it? Having to adhere to media obligations can be tough on someone so young. For Nguyen though, he's just enjoying the ride.

"I'm enjoying it, I'm enjoying these media days it's kind of fun."

"I love it, I love getting some attention and I'm really enjoying it, just being here, meeting everyone, it's really good fun, good craic."

For now, his focus is purely on the task at hand, which is winning a medal in Buenos Aires. Don't get it twisted though, he has one eye on the future.


Tokyo 2020 is under two years away.

"That is the main goal after these junior tournaments, qualifying would be a big goal.

"It will involve a lot of travelling next year to get my ranking up and start playing every senior tournament, but I'm confident."

A fantastic young man with a great head on his shoulders.

Nhat Nguyen. Remember the name. You are going to be hearing it a lot.

FBD Insurance's sponsorship of Team Ireland begins immediately and will run throughout the current Olympiad until the end of the 2020 Olympic Games