Viet Nam News
As the 2016 Summer Olympics approaches, Việt Nam will be watching the 23 Vietnamese athletes heading to Rio to compete against the rest of the world.
Thanh Nga reports.
By Thanh Nga
Small but very strong and brawny, Phạm Phước Hưng is training on parallel bars to prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics Games to be held in Brazil.
The 28-year-old gymnast carries out his rigorous training regimen in a room without air conditioning at Hà Nội’s National Sports Training Centre.
Although dripping with sweat, his every movement is spectacular.
Hưng is one of 23 Vietnamese athletes heading for Rio.
“I am very happy to be one of the Vietnamese players. I will try my best to have the best result,” said Hưng.
Hưng trains six to seven hours a day, including running outdoors in the summer heat, to increase his physical stamina.
“For me, training hard is part of the road to victory, especially to the Olympics,” he said.
“The Olympics are a chance to evaluate the nation’s sports development and its level compared to others in the region and the world,” Chief of Mission Trần Đức Phấn said at a send-off ceremony in Hà Nội for the delegation to Brazil.
Overcame spinal disease: Phạm Phước Hưng training on parallel bars.
“All athletes are at their peak and excited to take part in the world’s biggest sporting event after winning their slots through qualifications in recent years. They all want to take home their own medals,” said Phấn.
“With the slogan All for Athletes we have made every effort for them to have the best manners and psychology in training and competing. In addition to the effort of coaches and athletes, doctors are exerting themselves to care for their health. At present, the athletes’ health is good and their spirits are very high and they are ready for the competition,” Phấn added.
The Rio Games are the ninth for Việt Nam since it first took part in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
This time, Việt Nam is sending its biggest team. In London, four years ago, Việt Nam won 18 official cards.
So far, Việt Nam has won two silver medals in the world’s biggest tournament.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when taekwondo was added for the first time, Trần Hiếu Ngân bagged a silver medal in the women’s 57kg, the first Olympic medal for Việt Nam.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, weightlifter Hoàng Anh Tuấn broke out with 290kg to win a silver medal in the men’s 56kg .
Việt Nam will compete in 22 events in 10 sports this year. Its athletes will join more than 10,500 others from 206 countries and territories who will gather in Rio de Janeiro, competing in 306 events in 28 sports.
The Vietnamese team will compete in swimming, shooting, badminton, weightlifting, judo, gymnastics, track and field, fencing, rowing and wrestling.
"Not all of the athletes will take medals. Besides weightlifting and shooting, I hope our gymnasts will surprise us,” said Phấn.
400m hope: Nguyễn Thị Huyền training at the National Sports Training Centre in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Việt Thanh
Weightlifter Thạch Kim Tuấn, 22, is Việt Nam’s biggest medal hope in Rio. Tuấn won one gold, two silvers and three bronzes at world events. He also won a silver in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in 2014, and a silver in the 2013 Asian Weightlifting Championships. Last November, although he has not recovered from a knee injury, he still won a bronze at the World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, Texas.
In the men’s 56kg category, Tuấn is among the world’s strongest athletes alongside Om Yun Chol of North Korea and Long Qingquan of China.
Before going to the US to practise, he expressed certainty that he could earn at least a bronze.
Tuấn’s coach, Huỳnh Hữu Chí, also confirmed that Tuấn could bring home a medal after his satisfactory results in US training, where he exceeded his result of 287kg in the total lift in the men’s 56kg at the world event last year which brought him a bronze medal.
Kháng said Tuấn would target a 140kg lift in the snatch and 163kg in the clean-and-jerk in Brazil.
Meanwhile, this is the second time gymnast Phan Thị Hà Thanh, 25, has won the right to attend the Olympics after her first time in 2012 in the women’s all-around. She has just recovered from a knee injury sustained in April after qualifying for Rio.
“I hope I will attain a certain result and Việt Nam sports will score a success,” said Thanh, who became the first gymnast to win a world medal for Việt Nam, with a bronze in vault at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo.
According to Thanh’s coach, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Thúy, if Thanh competes well, she can move to the final round of the vaul competition.
“I will compete with the spirit of my last fight. I always want to have the best result but winning any medals is also a precious thing,” said Thanh. In addition to her potential medals, the swimming, badminton, and fencing events are also considered promising, especially with Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên taking part.
With the best performance in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore, Viên became the only female swimmer in the region to gain three A standards to the Brazil Olympics in the women’s 400m individual medley (IM) with a time of 4:42.88, 200m IM with a time of 2:13.53 and 400m freestyle with a time of 4:08.66.
Viên’s achievements are lower than those of Olympic medallists. Ye Shiwen of China won a gold medal in the 400m IM and 200m IM at the London Olympics with a time of 4:28.43 and 2:07.57. However, with the great strides she has made in recent tournaments and a long time training in the US, Viên is expected to shine in Brazil.
At the 2015 FINA Swimming World Cup in Moscow, Viên’s results were better. She won a silver medal in the 400m IM with a time of 4:40.79 and a bronze medal in the 200m IM with a time of 2:10.15.
“At every event, Viên is always confident. This is the second time, the 19-year-old has taken part in the Olympics so she has had many chances to compete with world and Olympics gold medallists. I hope Viên will compete with a boom in Rio,” said coach Đặng Anh Tuấn.
In other sports, such as wrestling, athletics and rowing, Việt Nam only aims to hone its athletes’ skills and gain experience.
“In Brazil, I hope to overcome my results in the SEA Games last year and learn more from international competitors,” runner Nguyễn Thị Huyền told Sunday Việt Nam News prior to her departure. She will compete in the women’s 400m and 400m hurdles.
Huyền performed outstandingly at the 28th SEA Games in Singapore last year, meeting two Olympic B standards in the women’s 400m hurdles (56.15 sec) and 400m dash (52 sec).
All eyes will be focused on gymnast Hưng. Although he was treated with spinal tuberculosis for 10 years, Hưng qualified for the Olympic Games for the second time, winning several other regional and international gold medals along the way.
“I am very glad and proud to partake in the Olympics for the second time. When I was fighting my disease, doctors said I would not be able to compete any more. Tuberculosis bacteria ate two of my vertebrae. It was very painful and I became humpbacked, and was very disappointed,”said Hưng.
“However, I returned to professional sports after nearly one year of treatment,” said Hưng, who was away from home for 12 years training in China.
Three years ago, Hưng came down again with pulmonary tuberculosis but he has overcome it to shine in international events. Last year, he made history after one of his techniques was officially named and added to the Men’s Gymnastics Code of Points of the International Gymnastics Federation.
“I used to be Hưng’s teammate and then I became his coach. I have been side by side with him for a long time. He conquered it all with his indulgence, will and energy,” said Trương Minh Sang, coach of national men’s gymnastics team.
“I hope Hưng’s performance in Rio will be as amazing as his life story,” added Sang. VNS