|At 39, Nguyễn Tiến Minh is still going strong, despite having made his SEA Games debut the last time Việt Nam were hosts back in 2003. — Photo courtesy of the Badminton World Federation|
HÀ NỘI — Despite being 39 years of age, Nguyễn Tiến Minh is still the flagship of Vietnamese badminton in international competitions, including the upcoming SEA Games 31.
Minh will be one of the oldest athlete of Việt Nam's delegation to this year's Games, setting an impressive record.
Minh joins chess master Hoàng Thị Bảo Trâm as few athletes to compete in this year's games and to have competed the last time they were held in Việt Nam, at SEA Games 22 (2003).
His vast experience will be the most useful weapon for the former world number four in this tournament against much younger opponents.
“Nguyễn Tiến Minh is still a flagship of Vietnamese badminton,” said Lê Thanh Hà, general secretary of the Việt Nam Badminton Federation.
“We believe that at this point, Minh's professional experience is very useful for young teammates during preparations for the 31st SEA Games.
“We will try to create the best conditions for athletes to practice in Bắc Giang’s court because that is how we take advantage of playing on home turf.
“The court condition and lighting meet international standards, as well as the team's dining and accommodation, which are appropriately arranged to be ready for the Games,” he added.
From a young star at the last SEA Games to be held in Việt Nam 20 years ago, Minh’s professionalism and dedication have stood the test of time, helping him stand strong against the many rising stars of world’ badminton for all these years.
On Wednesday, Minh beat much younger players to be crowned the men's singles champions at the national badminton Thành Công Cup 2022.
For national badminton team manager Ngô Trung Dũng, Minh is a legend, but also a role model for any young Vietnamese player to look up to.
“Tiến Minh is a legend and a flagship of Vietnamese badminton, with very high professionalism in practice,” Dũng said.
“I never see him late to training and he is always serious in following the coaching board’s instructions. Young athletes can learn from him.
“We have seven different competitions at this year's SEA Games. We will target the areas where the team is strong to find opportunities to win medals.
“Right now, our athletes are very relaxed and confident. The opponents are all strong players, but we have every chance of beating them when Vietnamese badminton has so many promising young players.”
Besides the SEA Games record, Minh is also the only Vietnamese athlete to participate in three Olympic Games. At the age of 39, the HCM City tennis player is still training hard to pursue his passion.
Minh is the Vietnamese athlete with the best record in the SEA Games. He is the only male player to have won the most recent SEA Games medal (bronze medal in SEA Games 29 in Malaysia).
Nguyễn Tiến Minh has been the number one badminton player in Việt Nam for many years. He also ranked fourth in the world in January 2010. — VNS