Swimmer hopes to return to American and keep Olympic dreams alive

Update: February, 12/2021 - 14:43


Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên is Việt Nam's hope in all swimming competitions. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — Swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên has one wish for Tết – to resume her specialist training schedule in America and help her gain Olympic success.

For the second Lunar New Year in a row, Viên is back home celebrating with her family after spending almost a decade training abroad.

The 25-year-old is one of the country’s hottest prospects for Tokyo, but first she needs to qualify and to that, is calling for US assistance.

Viên, who has been the country’s best athlete at the last three Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, came home two years ago, but couldn’t not return to the US after the pandemic began last year.

Now she knows her hopes of getting on the plane to Japan for the Olympics, rests firmly on her chances of getting back in the pool and resuming intensive training in the US.

“2020 was a sad year of sports in not only Việt Nam but also the whole world,” she said.

“The pandemic has prevented me from training and competing because tournaments have been either delayed or cancelled.

The 25-year-old earned 14 golds in individual and relay events at last October championship but she was not pleased with the year on the whole.

She added: “I could not be happy because the poor results.

“It is because I could not go abroad for training as planned. I hope I to fly to the US as soon as possible where my practice is with all the best condition. Actually if I was there from beginning of this year I would definitely take an Olympics’ A standard in June and will qualify for the Tokyo Games.”

However, when the pandemic has not been managed well over the world, her plan right now seems a long way away as the world still tries to control coronavirus.

In the meantime, the Cần Thơ Province-based athlete is working hard for her last SEA Games which is on home ground in November and December.

“If I can train in the US, a goal of eight gold medals for the SEA Games will be no problem. However, with this tough situation I just predict four although I hope I could do better because it will be my last SEA Games in career,” said Viên.

My Tết is simple

Tết is when all family members united to celebrate a new year. But eight years far from home makes this Lunar New Year more special to Viên.

She said: “I and my (former) coach Đặng Anh Tuấn began training in the US from 2011 to 2018, then I welcomed seven Tết holidays abroad. I was homesick and tried to call home to talk with my parents and grandparents. Witnessing people united together I burst into tears.

“Tuấn then decided to send me to practice in mountainous areas where there was almost no Asian people during that time so I would not be homesick. And gradually I forgot about the Tết atmosphere because of busy training schedule.”

Viên returned for Tết in 2019, and her presence was welcomed by her family who had not spent a holiday with her for so long.

“People pampered me like a kid,” she admitted.

“I was not allowed to do anything but sit and rest. But I went out to buy some flowers and bonsai to decorate my house. It was really interesting.”

“I love the busy atmosphere when family prepare for the new year. However, Tết in my family is simple.

“We have the year-end party together before the Eve. In the morning of the next day, I will give greetings to my parents and grandparents and receive lucky money from them. It is happy and I really enjoy. And then, my Tết is over.

“This year would be a little different because my mother has wished that I would bring boyfriend home and get married soon. But I am still young and have not thought about it yet,” Viên laughed as she sent best wishes to all people especially her supporters. — VNS