HA NOI (VNS)— A meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the Viet Nam Athletics Federation (VAF) was held in the Elite Athletes Training Centre in Ha Noi yesterday.
The event attracted a large attendance, and many onlookers were coaches who have worked with the organisation. Speakers toasted the VAF's success and looked ahead to the future.
"With the VAF's lead, Vietnamese track-and-field is now in the top three in the region and our athletes have tasted success in continental events," said Ho Thi Tu Tam, the coach of the national middle-distance running team.
Track-and-field was introduced to Viet Nam by the French in the early 20th century. Over the past 50 years, the VAF has presided over a sporting culture that has gone from strength to strength and seen Vietnamese athletics develop fast.
The country competed in its first international athletics event, the Games of the New Emerging Forces, in Indonesia in 1963 alongside 51 other nations.
In later international and regional events, such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, they brought home many medals.
Recent highlights include Truong Thanh Hang is the Vietnamese record holder over both 800m and 1500m. She is one of Asia's foremost middle-distance runners, having been among Asia's top ranking runners over 800m both indoors and outdoors. She was a double silver medalist for Viet Nam at the 16th Asian Games (ASIAD) in Guangzhou, China in 2010 and has also been highly successful at the SEA Games, where she won gold medals from 2005 to 2009.
Vu Thi Huong has been similarly dominant over short distances. She won 100m gold and 200m silver at the 2005 SEA Games, and both 100m and 200m gold medals at the 2007 event. In addition she has won bronze and silver medals in the Asian Championships.
Athletics will take centre stage when the 18th Asian Games come to Viet Nam in 2019.
"At China's ASIAD two years ago, Viet Nam had silver medals courtesy of runners Hang and Huong, and a bronze medal won in the decathlon by Vu Van Huyen. This gives a platform for us to build on," said Hoang Manh Cuong, vice chairman and general secretary of VAF.
"It's necessary for us to seek young talent and train them well so that in seven years they will be ready to compete at this level. We will invest strongly in equipment, coaching and training programmes," Cuong added. — VNS