Lê Văn Công (left) of Việt Nam and the other medallists of the men's U49kg category pose for photos at the World Para Powerlifting - Asia Oceania Open Championship in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. Photos courtesy of Para Powerlifting
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese para-athlete Lê Văn Công is feeling confident ahead of the ASEAN Para Games next month, after taking silver at the Asia Oceania Open Championship of the World Para Powerlifting competition in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
Việt Nam sent its five strongest athletes to the Asian Open, which will finish on June 20. They are facing 230 athletes from 32 countries, and have so far taken three silvers and one bronze medal.
The competition is divided into 10 weight classes in the men’s and women’s categories.
It is the first of four Regional Championships in the 2022 Para powerlifting season followed, by the Americas, Africa, and European Open Championships.
Công, who won a Tokyo Olympic silver medal for Việt Nam in July, came second in the men's U49kg category.
The Rio Olympic champion lifted 173kg after three attempts, despite being hampered by an ongoing shoulder injury.
"My injury has not recovered yet, although I have been under treatment for months. It prevented me from lifting heavier weights. If my shoulder was good, I know I could have won gold," Công told Việt Nam News.
"I had to use a pain-relieving spray to compete at this championship, and this result is fine for me," said Công, who matched the weight he lifted for silver in Tokyo.
Five years ago, he set a world record of 183.5kg at the world championship in Mexico. At the previous world championship in Tsibili, Công also secured a silver.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Omar Sami Hamadeh Qarada of Jordan took gold with a lift of 175kg, while Indian Parmjeet Kumar came third with 163kg.
Another silver for Việt Nam came via Châu Hoàng Tuyết Loan in the women's U55kg class.
Loan, who arrived but could not compete at the Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19, lifted 98kg.
Châu Hoàng Tuyết Loan took silver in the women's U55kg class at the Pyeongtaek World Para Powerlifting - Asia Oceania Open Championship.
She was behind Xiao Jinping of China, who won with a lift of 117kg. Gulbanu Abdykhalykova of Kazakhstan was third with 78kg.
Đặng Thị Linh Phượng took silver in the women's U50kg with a result of 96kg.
Chinese Wei Yi bettered all rivals to win gold with 110kg. Fariza Kaztolzhan from Kazakhstan took bronze, lifting 85kg.
Việt Nam's only bronze went to Nguyễn Bình An in the men's U54kg. He managed 172kg.
The winner was David Degtyarev of Kazakhstan. The 25-year-old lifted 180kg. Chinese Yang Jinglang was 4kg less than him and took silver.
The Vietnamese delegation will return home today.
Công and his teammates will then set their sights on the ASEAN Para Games from July 30 to August 6 in Surakarta City, Java.
The biannual multi-sport event will feature 11 Southeast Asian countries.
"It is okay now. And I will make it better at the Paris Olympics (in 2024). I will definitely take my top position back," Công said.
Công, Việt Nam's leading para-athlete for many years, will defend his title at the Surakarta meet. He has dominated the Games for five editions in a row.
"Back in Việt Nam, I will practise as normal to prepare for the Para Games. In my category, there are athletes from Laos and Timor Leste. But they are not threatening rivals to me," Công said.
"I am very confident to remain on the top podium. I am going to take the sixth consecutive title."
The 11th Games were initially to be hosted by Việt Nam in 2021. Because of the pandemic, it was unexpectedly postponed to 2022 before Việt Nam decided to drop the event.
In February, Indonesia asked to host the Games from July 23-30 before being pushed to the current dates.
Surakarta, which previously hosted the sixth Para Games in 2011, will welcome almost 1,500 athletes participating in 14 sports; athletics, archery, badminton, boccia, CP football, chess, goalball, judo, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
The last Games were held in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Indonesia topped the medal tally with 126 golds, Malaysia came second with 90 and Thailand third with 68.
Việt Nam placed fourth with 40 titles.
Manila was supposed to host the 10th Para Games in 2020, but it was cancelled due to the organisers' budget constraints and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. VNS