|Nguyễn Anh Tú playing at the National Best Table Tennis Players Championship last December. Tú is Việt Nam's golden hope at the SEA Games. Photo baoquangnam.vn
HÀ NỘI — Team table tennis of Việt Nam has set the target of two gold medals at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Việt Nam in May.
If the task is done, it would be the first time that Việt Nam can earn more than one gold in the sport at the Games.
“Twenty athletes are training at present are the best players who had good records in 2021," said Phan Anh Tuấn, head of table tennis section of the Việt Nam Sports Administration.
"We have discussed on tactics and hope to win two titles at this Games," he said.
The title favourites include pair Nguyễn Anh Tú and Đoàn Bá Tuấn Anh who are defending champions in the men's double category.
Tú, who also had a gold in the men's team event in the 2017 Games, is also believed to make a bang in the singles class.
He said he believes winning a single's gold would be his most important task at the Games on home soil.
"It is the last title that I have not won from SEA Games," he said.
"I have set it a must-win this year and will do my best to make it true."
Coach Lê Huy said: "I really appreciate Tú's efforts. He is a hard-working athlete and a good-mannered person.
"After years of working with him, I can see that he has gradually improved his technique. If he maintains his stable performance at the Games, he will be a really tough competitor."
Meanwhile coach Nguyễn Đức Long said Tú has his own strong points with a strong backhand drive and strokes. His speed is also really good.
However, his mission is not easy.
When Tú only played domestically and had a training course in Hungary to prepare for the Games, his rivals such as Jann Nayre, John Russell Misal (Philippines); Clarence Chew Zhe Yu, Pang Yew En Koen, and Lucas Tan (Singapore); Sitisak Nuchchart, Puripong Saelee, Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (Thái Lan); and Fafilah Fikri Faqih (Indonesia) all competed in a number of international competitions recently.
Tú's only advantage is the fact that playing at home means he would receive strong local support if fans are allowed to attend the matches.
If it is possible, Tú and teammates will have a short training course abroad to make sure they are in their best form ahead of the Games. The destination will be Hong Kong or Chinese Taipei.
This year, the new Việt Nam Table Tennis Federation director Nguyễn Xuân Vũ has put large big bonuses for SEA Games winners.
Single and double gold medallists will grab VNĐ80 million while the winning team will get VNĐ150 million, which are, according to Tú, strong incentives for the whole team.
Table tennis will have seven categories for men and women and will be played in Hải Dương Province from May 13-20. Almost 130 athletes have registered to compete. — VNS