HA NOI (VNS)— Vu Thi Huong has bad memories of the last Southeast Asian Games, where the sprint queen failed to defend her titles.
This year, Huong will try to make amends for her disappointment, but is still struggling to overcome injuries.
Two years ago in Indonesia, Huong unexpectedly finished third in both the 100m and 200m events after dominating her regional competitors for most of the season.
Huong admitted that it was impossible to win every time, but she could not believe that she had failed at the tournament she had won on the previous three occasions.
The Thai Nguyen Province-born athlete has been struggling with injuries for the last three years which have strongly affected her performance. During that period, Huong was only able to shine at the national championships in 2012, where her times were better than the SEA Games gold medallists.
Huong ran 11.62sec in the 100m and 23.32sec in the 200m, compared to 11.69 by Indonesia's Serafi Unani and 23.65 by Laphassaporn Tawoncharoen of Thailand.
Her 200m result was even better than the time of 23.49 that helped Chisato Fukushima of Japan win the Asian Games gold in China, where Huong came second.
In this year's championships in September, Huong avoided the individual categories, and only competed in the team events due to her injuries.
At that time, Huong and her coach Nguyen Dinh Minh both believed that the rest time to the SEA Games would be enough for her to return to her peak.
Three months have passed, and Huong appears to be peaking in time for the Games, with times of11.50 and 23.50 during training.
Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy general secretary of the Viet Nam Athletics Federation, said that the best result in the region for 100m was around 11.76, so the door was open for her to take gold.
However, he said the 27 year old had not been set any targets, and would be free to compete without pressure.
"I have faced different kinds of injuries and tasted success and defeat in my career. In Asia, I do not fear anyone but myself," said Huong, referring to her long-term injuries and recent surgery.
Viet Nam's golden hopes
In Myanmar the organisers will award 46 sets of medals, and the Vietnamese team are expected to win nine golds.
Young athlete Nguyen Thi Oanh will take part in her second SEA Games in the women's 200m and 400m events.
The 17-year-old recently made a bang by coming fourth in the world junior 400m.
Her personal best of 52.97 which she set at this year's national tournament is faster than the SEA Games winning result of 54.13, and close to the Asian Championships gold medal time.
Oanh will be a competitive rival for her senior teammate Huong in the 200m event.
Thanh Hoa Province's Quach Thi Lan will return for Viet Nam after months of training in Bulgaria and Malaysia. The 18-year-old runner who has received strong support for the upcoming ASIAD is expected to shine in the women's 400m and 400m hurdles.
She is the SEA Games record holder in the 400m event with a time of 53.76, while in the 400m hurdles, she has already run faster than the SEA Games winner.
Other Vietnamese athletes who have been tipped to have a good Games include Do Thi Thao (women's 800m and 1,500m); Pham Thi Diem (women's high jump); Tran Hue Hoa (women's triple-jump) and Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc (women's walk).
Athletics will be held from December 14-19 at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex in Nay Pyi Taw. — VNS