|Lê Tú Chinh (right) wins gold in the women's 100m event at the 2021 National Athletics Championship in Hà Nội. Chinh has suffered a knee injury and will miss the 31st SEA Games in May. Photo of Triệu Linh|
HÀ NỘI — SEA Games champion Lê Tú Chinh will not be able to defend her 100m title because of a knee injury.
The news has been confirmed by her coach Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương and Việt Nam Athletics Federation General Secretary Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng.
“Chinh suffered an injury two weeks ago during training in HCM City,” Hương told the media.
“I sent her to different hospitals in HCM City and Hà Nội for tests. Doctors said she has a torn meniscus and needs surgery and she will not compete in the SEA Games."
Chinh was expected to defend her 100m title and take the top place in the 200m, after losing it to strong rival Kristina Knott of the Philippines in 2019.
In her latest competition at the National Athletics Championship last December, Chinh was not in her best form but still won a gold.
Chinh, 25, is considered one of the best sprinters of Việt Nam’s athletics.
She first took part in the SEA Games in 2017 when she was 20 and secured a hattrick of golds in 100m, 200m and 4x100m events. Two years later when Knott was naturalised by the Philippines, Chinh lost her 200m title.
|Lê Tú Chinh celebrates her 2019 SEA Games' 100m win in the Philippines. Her injury prevents her from defending title this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Linh|
At the Games in Hà Nội, Việt Nam believe that 17 golds will be enough to maintain the top position, beating possible threats from other rivals, especially Thailand.
Chinh’s absence will be a loss for the runner herself as she cannot compete at home. And Việt Nam will also suffer as Chinh’s gold is counted as one of the country’s target of 17 golds to top the overall ranking.
Chinh’s fellow runners, Lê Thị Mộng Tuyền and Hà Thị Thu, are not considered title favourites as their personal bests are not in the SEA Games’ top three.
General Secretary Hùng said: “We regret her absence which will affect Việt Nam’s target. Now, in short distance sprint events, we can only look for title from the 4x100m team.
“This year, Thailand strongly vie for the top position with Việt Nam. After two Games finishing behind us, they continued naturalising athletes. Recently they have naturalised athletes from Australia to run in the men’s 400m and 800m event. Last Games they imported one from the US who won our golds in the men’s 5,000m and 10,000m.
“Our target of 15 to 17 golds will be tough. Our athletes must strive harder to complete their tasks,” he said. — VNS