|Wrestler Hà Văn Hiếu of Việt Nam celebrate his 52-second win in the men's 130kg Greco-Roman on May 17. VNS Photo Quý Lượng|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese wrestlers won all six titles available on the first day of the SEA Games 31 Greco-Roman wrestling on May 17 in Hà Nội.
Opening the golden day for the hosts was Bùi Tiến Hải, who trounced Khamlar Salavong of Laos in the men's 60kg class.
His victory was a strong push for teammate Bùi Mạnh Hùng who outclassed Noel Novada of the Philippines in the men's 67kg.
Nguyễn Bá Sơn continued the winning streak for Việt Nam in the men's 77kg category. Sơn met had a little trouble in the match against Andika Sulaeman from Indonesia, who wrestled strongly at the start before fading away.
Nghiêm Đình Hiếu beat Thailand's Chinathurat in the men's 87kg class.
Nguyễn Minh Hiếu took his title in the men's 97kg, beating Anucha Yospanya, another Thai.
Hà Văn Hiếu ended the outstanding day with his gold in the men's 130kg, putting down Timothy Yu of Singapore in only 52 seconds.
"I am thrilled. I grabbed a gold medal on home turf in my last SEA Games. It is a really, really wonderful feeling right now," said 37-year-old Hiếu of the fourth title in his career.
"I didn't think I could have such an easy win as like that," he said.
Along with the COVID-19 pandemic challenge, Hiếu and his teammates suffered a big shock when their expert coach Phridon Chkhartishvili suddenly died in March.
"We are really sad and felt lost because of his death, which affected our plan a little. But we had to overcome every difficulty and return to training normally."
Hiếu is a record-holding wrestler with countless titles from domestic and international competitions.
He will compete in one last international competition later this year before moving to be a coach.
Speaking after celebrating with his athletes, Coach Nguyễn Văn Chúc said they deserved to have these victories for their great effort through the months.
The athletes practised and had internal competitions behind closed-doors for three months. It was to make sure they were not affected by the virus or social networks.
After the first day, Việt Nam grabbed half of their target of 12 gold medals to top the tally.
On May 18, the female wrestlers will participate in the freestyle events with six weight categories ranging from 50kg to 76kg.
Nguyễn Thị Xuân, Kiều Thị Ly, Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Trang, Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Hạnh, Lại Diệu Thương and Đặng Thị Linh are the hosts.
The wrestling will be held until May 19 at the 2,500-seater Gia Lâm District Gymnasium in Hà Nội. — VNS