'We started from nowhere': Irish Olympian had to work at family takeaway during lockdown

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Men's Singles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Nhat Nguyen of Ireland in action during the match against Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Nhat Nguyen of Ireland in action during the match against Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka. (Reuters)

An Irish badminton star has hailed his parents for working “literally 24/7” after moving from Vietnam 15 years ago in search of a better life.

Nhat Nguyen was six years old when his parents moved to Ireland, where they now run a takeaway in Dublin.

When lockdown hit, Nuguyen, who also contacted COVID last year, was forced to down his racket and help out with deliveries as he started to appreciate what his parents had done for him and his sister after focusing on the world tour in recent years.

“We started from nowhere, we had absolutely nothing,” said Nuguyen, who is aiming to go deep into the men’s singles competition on his Olympic debut. “We had absolutely nothing.

“My parents had to work literally 24/7 for me and (my) sister just to be able to go to school, and to be able to afford food for us.

“They work in a Chinese takeaway. I’m not even joking - all day, every day. During lockdown I helped out a couple of days, but it’s tough work. It’s a 4pm to 1am job, and I can’t do that. I don’t know how they do it.”

Watch: What are the rules of badminton?

The 21-year-old showcased his talent for the game with an opening win on Monday at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

“Before I went out on court I just told myself, leave 100% on court, win or lose,” he said. “I started off a little bit nervous, but once I got the first set and shook off the nerves I was able to apply my tactics.”

Naturally, he also wondered whether his parents were even watching the match given their dedication towards their takeaway business.

“It’s like 12 noon in Ireland, so I hope they’re watching,” he said.

“(The takeaway) opens at 4 or 5 o’clock so they’re probably drinking a Guinness, because the pubs are back open in Ireland now. I will give them a call straight after and see.

“My parents have sacrificed a lot for myself and my sister, so winning that match, I think they will be proud. That’s what spurred me on during the tough moments.”

Watch: The Olympian abandoned by his beloved mum aged six... for his own good

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