|Sharp shooter: Olympian Hoang Xuan Vinh is expected to win gold for Viet Nam at the 28th SEA Games. — Photo tapchithethao.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The national shooting team's head coach Nguyen Thi Nhung said her shooters have been asked to win at least four gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
"It is definitely going to be a tough SEA Games in Singapore, when some of our strong points are not organised. A small budget forces us to practise with limited bullets, while the shooting range infrastructure has been out of date for many years. But we will compete in 12 (out of 26) categories and expect to win four titles," Nhung said.
Although they train at the national level, the shooters are given only half of the bullets they need per day. While shooters across the world and in the region are equipped with electronic targets, Vietnamese marksmen still use targets made of paper. These shortcomings have been there for many years, but have not been resolved.
"Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar have built really good shooting ranges with electronic targets. Their athletes have never faced a shortage of bullets. They even practise with very qualified products imported from Europe," Nhung said.
However, Nhung said the difficulties would boost her shooters to try their best.
The coach said Singapore, the host team, would be the strongest competitor as they had ‘imported' some marksmen from China and would receive strong support from local fans.
But, she said, her shooters would compete because ‘there is always surprise in sports'.
"Our athletes are of a higher level than many in the region and they have been working very hard with great determination. Of course, sometimes competitors need a little luck to be successful, but my shooters can do their job," she said.
Nhung said all her best shooters, such as Hoang Xuan Vinh (men's 10m air pistol, individual), Nguyen Hoang Phuong (men's 50m pistol), Tran Quoc Cuong (men's 10m air pistol) and Dang Hong Ha (women's air rifle), were in good form, as proved by their recent titles and records at the national cup.
After a selection process in late March, the team enjoyed a training session in South Korea and took part in two World Cup events, before returning to Viet Nam for an intensive training course.
"The volume and difficulty of exercises have been pushed up. They have to practise 15 hours per day. It is really heavy and requires great effort," coach Pham Cao Son said.
The golden hopes of the team are pinned on Vinh and Cuong, who are the first Southeast Asian competitors to win their tickets to compete at the Rio Olympics next year. The other hopes are from team events.
However, Nhung said she had secret ‘weapons' that may make an impact at the Singapore Games, which is considered a warm-up tournament for higher-level competitions such as the Asian Games and Olympics.
The shooting events will be organised from June 6 to 13.
Viet Nam won seven of 12 gold medals available at the Myanmar Games two years ago. — VNS