Nguyen Tho Oan runs the 3000m hurdles at the 2021 Women’s National Championships in Athletics last December. Oan has to defend three gold medals at the upcoming SEA Games in Hanoi. — Photo courtesy of Triu Lin.

HÀ NỘI – The Vietnam sports team will have a busy year in 2022 with two big challenges: to defend their first place in the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA) and win gold in the 19th Asian Games (ASIAD).

Vietnam has dethroned Thailand and established its dominance in the athletics of the SEA Games in two recent games. As hosts of the upcoming Games, Vietnamese athletes will be under a lot of pressure, especially amid the pandemic.

“Our athletes have endured a year of trials and hardships due to COVID-19, which has greatly affected our training and competition plan,” said Nguyen Mon Hung, general secretary of the Vietnam Athletics Department of the Vietnam Sports Administration.

“It is clear that we, as hosts, will be under a lot of pressure. This makes our athletes and coaches work harder and harder. This Thoth (Lunar New Year) my 75 athletes and almost 30 coaches will not rest. They will continue training. in five national centers. We are determined to defend our No. 1 position in ASEAN.”

Hà Nội SEA Games will take part in 47 sports competitions. Vietnamese runners are expected to win at least 16 gold medals, the same number they won at the 2019 Games in the Philippines, to maintain their position as the top team in the sport.

According to Hung, the golden faces will be Nguyen Thi Oan (women’s 1500m, 5000m and 3000m hurdles), Quach Thi Lan (women’s 400m and 400m hurdles) and Pham Thi Hong Le (women’s 10,000m) .

He also mentioned some young athletes who could compete for titles in other sports. Huỳnh Thị Mỹ Tiên just won the national championship in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.59 seconds, better than the 2019 SEA Games gold medal time. Phạm Quỳnh Giang in the women’s high jump just cleared the 1.81m mark to reach the SEA Games gold medal level to top the national championship.

Huen Tho Mu Tien is expected to win the Vietnam women’s 100m hurdles title at the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian Games following her strong performance at the 2021 National Athletics Championships last December. — Photo courtesy of Triu Lin.

Other athletes competing in the national championship last month are Khut Phong Anh (women’s 800m 1500m) and Tran Van Ong (men’s 800m 1500m) and Le Tin Long (men’s 3000m hurdles).

Athletes will have to pass several tests, including a tournament before the SEA Games in April. The names of the strongest participants will be included in the final list of games SEA Games May 12-23.

Four months after the SEA Games, those who perform well in Hanoi will be selected to participate in the 19th ASIAD in Hangzhou, China.

At the previous Games in 2018, Vietnam won two gold medals with long jumper Bui Tho Thu Tho and Kwach Tho Lan in the 400m hurdles.

“The challenges of defending two titles are difficult. Tho won her medal after jumping 6.55 m. At the national championships in December, she still took gold, but jumped only 6.27 m after a two-year vacation with her family. Currently, many Asian athletes have jumped better than 6.60m. Some of them have jumped 6.85m,” Hung said.

“In the meantime, Lan will face ‘imported’ runners from the Middle East. At a recent tournament in China, we saw a runner who is younger but faster than Lan. So we made a plan to send Lan to train in Europe and compete in the USA. She will also receive strong support in terms of nutrition and physical care. This is all to win ASIAD gold.”

Tran Van Ong celebrates his victory in the men’s 800m at the 2021 National Athletics Championships last December. — Photo courtesy of Triu Lin.

In March, German expert Carl Günther Lange will return to Vietnam to help the sports team.

Hung said that Lange, an experienced coach with more than 20 years of experience in dozens of countries, will also take part in training runners in the middle and long distance teams.

Lange worked in Vietnam in 2010–2011 as an adviser. With it, Vietnamese runner Chong Thanh Hung showed impressive results, winning two silver medals in the women’s 800m and 1500m at ASIAD 2010 in China. — VNS

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SportNews / Times24H

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