|Nguyến Thị Oanh runs in the 2021 National Athletics Championship's women's 3,000m steeplechase event last December. Oanh is to defend three gold medals at the coming SEA Games in Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of Triệu Linh|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam's athletic team will have a busy year in 2022 with two big tasks of defending its top position at the coming 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and winning a gold at the 19th Asian Games (ASIAD).
Việt Nam dethroned Thailand to set its domination in the SEA Games' athletics in two recent editions. As the hosts of the upcoming Games, the Vietnamese athletes will take on high pressure to complete their target especially in the circumstance of the pandemic.
"Our athletes have gone through a year of challenges and difficulties because of COVID-19, which has strongly affected our plan of training and competing," said Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, general secretary of the Việt Nam Athletics Department of the Việt Nam Sports Administration.
"It is clear that we will suffer high pressure as the hosts. It forces our athletes and coaches to work harder and more actively. This Tết (Lunar New Year), my 75 competitors and almost 30 trainers will not rest. They will keep training at five national centres. We are determined to defend our No 1 position in ASEAN."
The Hà Nội SEA Games will see 47 athletic events. It is expected that Vietnamese runners will secure at least 16 golds, as many as they did in the 2019 Games in the Philippines, to maintain their position as the leading team in the sport.
According to Hùng, the golden faces will be Nguyễn Thị Oanh (in women's 1,500m, 5,000m, 3,000m steeplechase), Quách Thị Lan (women's 400m, 400m hurdles) and Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ (women's 10,000m).
He also mentioned some young athletes who could vie for titles in other events. Huỳnh Thị Mỹ Tiên just won a national championship’s women's 100m hurdles with the result of 13.59sec, better than the 2019 SEA Games gold medal time. Phạm Quỳnh Giang in the women's high jump just passed 1.81m, as high as SEA Games gold medallist, to top the national championship.
|Huỳnh Thị Mỹ Tiên is expected to win Việt Nam a title in the women's 100m hurdles event at the upcoming 31st SEA Games after her strong performance at the 2021 National Athletics Championship last December. — Photo courtesy of Triệu Linh|
Other athletes who starred at last month's national championship are Khuất Phương Anh (women's 800m, 1,500m) and Trần Văn Đảng (men's 800m, 1,500m) and Lê Tiến Long (men's 3,000m steeplechase).
Athletes will have several tests including a pre-SEA Games tournament in April. The strongest competitors will have their names in the final list for the SEA Games on May 12-23.
Four months after the SEA Games, those who have good results in Hà Nội will be selected to take part in the 19th ASIAD in Hangzhou, China.
At the previous Games in 2018, Việt Nam won two gold medals through long jumper Bùi Thị Thu Thảo, and Quách Thị Lan in the 400m hurdles.
"The tasks to defend two titles are difficult. Thảo won her medal after a jump of 6.55m. In the December national championship, she still took gold but jumped only 6.27m after a two-year rest with her family. Currently, many Asian athletes have jumped better than 6.60m. Some of them passed 6.85m," said Hùng.
"Meanwhile, Lan will face 'imported' runners from Middle East countries. In a recent tournament in China, we saw a runner who is younger but runs faster than Lan. Therefore, we have made a plan to send Lan to train in Europe and compete in the US. She will also receive strong support in terms of nutrition and physical care. It is all to win ASIAD golds."
|Trần Văn Đảng celebrates his men's 800m event win at the 2021 National Athletics Championship last December. — Photo courtesy of Triệu Linh|
In March, German expert Karl Gunter Lange will be back to Việt Nam to help the athletic team.
Hùng said that Lange, who is an experienced coach with more than 20 years of working in dozens of countries, will also take part in coaching for the runners in middle- and long-distance squads.
Lange worked in Việt Nam in 2010-11 as an advisor. With his help, Vietnamese runner Trương Thanh Hằng made an impressive performance with two silvers in the women's 800m and 1,500m in the 2010 ASIAD in China. — VNS