Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The SEA Games 29 concluded yesterday with an impressive closing ceremony that was full of cultural colours in Bukit Jalil Stadium.
According to creative director of the Games Saw Teong Hin , the closing ceremony is a farewell to all the athletes who competed in Malaysia over the past two weeks.
“Kuala Lumpur 2017 has been truly magnificent, memorable and majestic,” said SEA Games Federation president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar.
Việt Nam ranked third in the medal tally, bringing home 58 golds, 50 silvers and 60 bronzes. The hosts Malaysia took the lead with 145 golds, 92 silvers and 86 bronzes. While Thailand finished second with 72 golds, 86 silvers and 88 bronzes.
“In this year’s largest regional sport event, Việt Nam fulfilled their target and succeeded in Olympic sports, especially athletics and swimming. We gained 10 swimming gold medals and 17 golds in track and field events,” said Trần Đức Phấn, chief of mission of the Việt Nam team, at the press conference in Malaysia yesterday.
Swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên brought home eight gold medals, breaking three Games records, contributing her great effort to the success of the Việt Nam team.
Besides Viên, 15-year-old Nguyễn Hữu Kim Sơn shocked spectators by winning a gold medal and breaking the Games record in the men’s 400m medley. Nguyễn Huy Hoàng, 17, also set a new record in the men’s 1,500m freestyle.
Meanwhile, the Việt Nam athletics team were the most successful competition squad at the biennial multi-sport event.
For the first time in history, Việt Nam won 17 gold medals. They dethroned Thailand’s athletics dominance in the regional games to top the medal table.
Thailand were in second overall with a nine golds.
According to Phấn, Thailand brought their strongest players to Malaysia, not young aces. So Việt Nam’s achievement shows real ability.
“The unexpected success of athletics is an achievement in the right direction, showing the strength of the investment strategy,” said Phấn.
Female athletes were key in the success for Việt Nam as they bagged 13 golds, 10 of them on the track. Their outstanding results created a strong impression on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), especially Lê Tú Chinh and Nguyễn Thị Huyền’s performance.
The website iaaf.org said that Chinh emerged as the queen of sprints as she fiercely dominated the short dashes, winning the 100m and 200m, beating Malaysia’s Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli who was second in both events.
The unstoppable 20-year-old then teamed up with Nguyễn Thị Mộng Tuyền, Trần Thị Yến Hoa and Đỗ Thị Quyên to win the 4x100m in 43.88, a Games record.
Defending Asian champion Nguyễn Thị Huyền was another outstanding performer as she retained the three gold medals she won at Singapore in 2015. The 24-year-old won the 400m hurdles and 400m before claiming a third gold in the 4x400m relay.
Việt Nam’s other Olympic sports such as artistic gymnastics, table tennis and weightlifting also bore fruit.
Male gymnasts took home five out of seven gold medals at the Games.
The male table tennis team overcame arch rival Singapore to win the title.
Weightlifter Trịnh Văn Vinh won a gold medal and broke two Games records in the men’s 62kg category.
He lifted 172kg in the clean-and-jerk which is a new SEA Games’ record, beating the old record of 167kg.
A total lift of 307kg also helped him break the Games record of 304kg.
Vinh defeated Eko Yuki Irawan of Indonesia who was a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Irawan came second with a total lift of 306kg.
Việt Nam’s female football team secured their fifth title after finishing on top of the table after four matches.
On the other side, the men’s squad suffered a humiliating loss. They were eliminated after the group round although they expected by many at home to win the title for the first time.
Head coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng resigned at the post-match press conference.
At the closing ceremony, the Games flag was passed to 2019 hosts the Philippines.
The SEA Games is a regional event, and the achievements of Vietnamese athletes will be even greater if they perform well at the upcoming Asian Games (ASIAD) which is to be hosted by Indonesia and is scheduled to take place from August 18 to September 2 next year.
“We have completed our task. However, I think that third or fourth position is not the best for Việt Nam’s sport at this time. We hope Vietnamese athletes will succeed at bigger events such as ASIAD and the Olympics,” said Phấn.
Phấn said Việt Nam will invest in three or four strong sports based on the Games’ result with the hope of earning Asian gold medals.
In the recent ASIAD events, Việt Nam only gained one gold medal. Hopefully, from the achievements of the SEA Games this year, Việt Nam can improve on their results at the continental event. — VNS