Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Any medal in the upcoming Paralympics at Rio de Janeiro will be Việt Nam’s turning point and coach Đổng Quốc Cường and his athletes are looking forward to making history.
“My athletes have been improving their results and world rankings since 2014. Among them, Võ Thanh Tùng grabbed a gold and a bronze at a recent IPC Swimming European Open Championships,” swimming coach for athletes with disabilities Cường said.
“In my opinion, Tùng is the one who can vie for medals against the world strongest swimmers at this Games. As for the other two, Trịnh Thị Bích Như and Nguyễn Thành Trung, I hope they can make the finals and may be enter the top three,” Cường said.
According to the veteran trainer, this generation of swimmers is the best Việt Nam has had all through the four occasions he has led them to the Paralympics.
“They are the ones with the most potential who experienced their first Games in London four years ago. They are at their peak and we can call them the ‘golden generation’. If we cannot win this event it will be very difficult for the next one in Tokyo in 2020,” he added.
“I always tell my athletes, try hard in training and compete well, then with any colour of the medal you will make history,” Cường said.
Four years ago Tùng had an injury just before his London tournament and could only finish fourth. This year he has managed to overcome everything for a better result.
“I have enjoyed a good training schedule and a nutrition regime that helped me grow strong and ‘swallow’ all the exercises. Moreover my mentality has improved a lot and I think I am now much better than before,” Tùng, who swims in the men’s 50m categories, said.
“I believe that I am in the group of athletes vying for medals at Rio. I am excited to compare my capability with international swimmers.”
Five-time 2014 Asian Para Games winner Tùng is one of three medal hopes of Việt Nam.
The second one is powerlifter Lê Văn Công, the world record holder.
Công is expected to shine in the men’s 49kg category where he will face defending champion and world winner Yakubu Adesokan from Nigeria.
“In this fifth Paralympics of Việt Nam, we have come to collect medals and not to learn as in the past,” coach Nguyễn Hồng Phúc told reporters.
His best athlete Công is ranked World No 2 in with his world record of 182kg. However, at the recent national championship he lifted 183kg.
His teammate Nguyễn Bình An, whose opportunity is not as clear as Công, is also a potential athlete.
An competes in the men’s 54kg class. He lifted a gold medal at the Malaysia World Cup with a result of 180kg. In training he can make 184kg.
“Apart from his result Công also has a good mentality. I think he can win if he can bring into play his strong points. An is not as strong as Công but if he can emulate his practice sessions he may grab a silver,” coach Phúc says.
Lifter Châu Hoàng Tuyết Loan is the lucky athlete of the team. Loan previously failed to make the list but she was pushed up to fill a hole left after Russian Paralympic team was banned from the Games.
The world silver medallist in the women’s 55kg class has her best result of 103kg.
Phúc says, Loan is world No 5 in her category.
The third gold hope is track-and-field athlete Cao Ngọc Hùng.
The javelin thrower had an impressive throw of 41m at an open tournament in China and qualified for Rio.
He then pocketed a gold medal with a 41.64m at March Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai.
His result took him to world’s top list.
His coach Đặng Văn Phúc is excitedly waiting for the competitions.
“We are determined and eager for the Games from the time we were home and now are heading to win a medal,” he says.
Việt Nam has participated in the Paralympics four times and the best results were three fourth positions in track-and-field and powerlifting.
At the upcoming Games, Việt Nam has 11 participants, the biggest number in history. They compete in three sports of track-and-field, swimming and powerlifting.
To encourage athletes, sponsors presented VNĐ550 million (US$24,600) to all athletes at the ceremony. Further, Vietravel promised to deliver US$5,000 for each gold medal and record. Also, the Institute of Physics pledged $1,000 for the first gold medal winner.
At a sending-off ceremony last month, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện told the team, "We can totally make magic like what we have done in the Olympics (referring to marksman Hoàng Xuân Vinh’s gold medal in the 10mm air pistol). I hope athletes with disabilities will overcome themselves, competing for the nation and bring home glory.”
The Paralympics will kick-off on September 7. Lifter Công will open the tournament for Việt Nam one day later at the Riocentro – Pavilion 2. — VNS