|Unrivaled: Swimmer Hoang Quy Phuoc powers his way to successfully defend his title in the men's 200m freestyle event. — Photo vnexpress.net
HA NOI (VNS)— Vietnamese star swimmers Nguyen Thi Anh Vien and Hoang Quy Phuoc set a new record for Vietnamese swimming at the Southeast Asian Games both earning gold medals to help Viet Nam clock five gold medals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for the first time .
In the women's IM event, teen star swimmer Vien showed unrivaled power as she shot forward from the start to establish a set lead and never looked back, before heading to the finish to touch the clock pad with a time of 4:46.16. The time also shattered the old record of 4:50.88 set by Thai Natthanan Junkrajang at the Games in Indonesia two years ago. This is the second record Vien set at the Games, following her first record in the women's 200m backstroke.
With the gold medal, Vien set a new mark in Viet Nam's swimming history by becoming the first-ever Vietnamese to win three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze in one singles Games in its 54-year history of the country's competing in the Games.
Two years ago in Indonesia, Hoang Quy Phuoc became the first swimmer to win two gold medals and one bronze in one singles Games.
After the failure of defending this gold medal in the men's 100m freestyle, receiving instead a silver medal, and also winning another silver in the men's 400m freestyle, Phuoc bounced back to successfully defend his gold medal yesterday afternoon in yet another of his favourite events, the 200m freestyle.
|Triumphant: Bare-foot marathon runner Pham Thi Binh of Viet Nam crosses the finish line to win the women's marathon event during the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Nhut
Phuoc shrugged off a challenge from Malaysian opponent Henry Bego to finish first after completing the course, with a time of 1:50.64 to win Viet Nam's 43rd gold medal. Bego was second with 1:51.10 and Quah Zheng Wen of Singapore came in third at 1:51.66.
In track and field competition, the diminutive girl and barefoot marathon runner Pham Thi Binh overcame her congenital heart disease to bring home the country's first gold medal in the athletic competition.
The Asian silver medallist emerged in the stadium alone and dashed towards the finish line without being challenged before crossing the finish line with her best personal time of 2:45.34.
It was an extremely convincing victory for the 24-year-old runner, who has been widely known as a barefoot marathon runner due to her habit of running without shoes, though she once faced the risk of giving up her career after being diagnosed with having heart disease.
But following a successful heart surgery in 2010, Binh magically felt her health returning to normal, allowing her to return to running.
"When I was diagnosed as having heart problems and had to have a surgery, I felt very sad," she said.
"But as if by magic, I recovered my full health after the surgery and the doctor declared that I was fit to run again," she said.
Binh's success also came at the right time to end the country's drought of gold medals, which seemed to linger, as some favourtites events, such as the women's 400m and the men's pole vault, failed to produce gold medals.
"Binh showed her brilliance today and exceeded expectations," Duong Duc Thuy, head of the National Sports Administration's Athletics Department, said in discussing Binh's victory.
Track and field athletes also brought home another silver medal in the women's 4x100m relay, as Vu Thi Huong, Nguyen Ngoc Tham, Mai Thi Phuong and Do Thi Quyen finished in second place.
Meanwhile, in weightlifting, Tran Van Hoa won a silver medal after lifting 345kg, including 157kg in snatches and 188kg in clean and jerk, to finish second in the men's 94kg category.
In cycling, at the men's team 100km time trial, Mai Nguyen Hung, Le Van Duan, Trinh Duc Tam and Nguyen Thanh Tam won the first gold medal for Viet Nam in this category.
While in archery, ace Nguyen Tien Cuong lived up to expectations to win the first gold medal for the country in the event by defeating his Thai opponent 138-132 in the final.
In rowing, Le Thi An and Tran Thi Sam won a gold medal in the women's lightweight double scull event when, the duo completed the race in 8:02.96, 10 seconds ahead the Mynamar pair.
In the double scull with two oars, Pham Thi Thao and Pham Thi Hai had to settle for a silver medal after finishing behind the Indonesia duo.
In the men's 2000m, Nguyen Dinh Huy, Duong Thanh Binh, Pham Minh Chinh and Nguyen Van Linh brought home a silver medal with a time of 6:51.51, after allowing Indonesian rowers to overtake them on the last straight.
In sepak takraw, Viet Nam won a bronze medal, after losing to Myanmar in the semifinals.
And in women's volleyball, Viet Nam lost 3-0 to Thailand, but still remain in the final four.
Make or break
Meanwhile, in the men's football competition, Viet Nam will face Malaysia in a do-or-die match today at Zayyarthiri Stadium in Myanmar's capital of Naypyitaw.
With Singapore already securing a ticket to the semi-final, Viet Nam and Malaysia will have to battle for the remaining spot.
At just one point behind Malaysia, Viet Nam will be included in the final four if they beat Malaysia, which only need a draw to go to the semi-finals.
The task will be tough, but coach Hoang Van Phuc believe his players know how to beat Malaysia.
"The 5-0 victory over Laos revitalised our players' spirit and made them feel more relaxed and confident. I believe Viet Nam will beat Malaysia," Phuc said before today's match. — VNS