|Lê Xuân Ân is one of Việt Nam's two representatives at the 13th World Championship 3-Cushion Juniors in Heerhugowaard, the Netherlands, on September 23-25. Photo thanhnien.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has had two representatives competing at the 13th World Championship 3-Cushion Juniors (U22) in Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands for the first time.
Lê Xuân Ân and Nguyễn Hoài Phong are facing 22 other competitors, including ten from Europe, four from America, six from Asia and two from Africa on September 23-25.
Ân secured his slot after winning the HCM City 3-Cushion Junior Open, which lured more than 130 athletes nationwide in late July.
He defeated Phong in the final after an incredible last inning that brought him eight points and wrapped the match at 35-21.
Phong, who was second, is also enjoying the world championships for the first time in his career.
"I travelled from Huế to HCM City for the tournament, dreaming of winning the tournament like all other athletes. I met a lot of difficulty before taking the title," Ân said.
"I am happy to qualify for the world championship. It is a little nervous because it is my first time, and I don't know about our rivals, so I just want to go as far as possible," Ân said.
"I will try to perform my best and grab high results for Việt Nam's billiards. It will be a big 'thank you' to our coaches and sponsors who give me this opportunity," he said.
Meanwhile, Phong wishes he had more time to train before competing in Heerhugowaard.
Ân, 20, is from Thừa Thiên Huế Province and is a player of HCM City. He began playing billiards when he was six and has been pro for four years. He has tested his ability in the national championship twice.
Phong, 19, is an An Giang Province native living in HCM City. He has played billiards for four years.
It is also the first time they are participating in a competition abroad.
The duo, under coach Đặng Đình Tiến, landed in the Netherland yesterday and had two days of training ahead of the competition.
Although it is the first time the Vietnamese young competitors are at the tournament, Việt Nam's billiards is well-known around the world with famed players such as Trần Quyết Chiến, Nguyễn Quốc Nguyện, Mã Minh Cẩm, Mã Xuân Cường, and Ngô Đình Nại.
An article posted on the European Billiard Confederation's website states: "It's not easy to guess the winner. The talented youngsters from Turkey and the other European countries will face a great challenge from their Asian opponents."
Meanwhile, 35-time world championship winner Raymond Ceulemans of Belgium also praised Vietnamese athletes, saying: ''Belgians and the Netherlands were on top in billiards for years, now [South] Korea, Việt Nam and Turkey have become leading."
In Heerhugowaard, 24 players are divided into eight groups of three. The best two of each group will advance to the last 16 knock-out rounds.
"Because of limited time, we do not change their playing style but try to train them new skills. As a result, they have progressed dramatically after several weeks," said coach Tiến, a former SEA Games champion.
"As it is their first time, the matter of mentality is important. We also strengthened their mindset, hoping that they will be in good and stable spirits throughout their matches.
"Another issue is that we don't have information of other athletes, we only notice that they are trained very well. We don't expect to take a high ranking but to make the world alert about Việt Nam's billiards," Tiến said.
|Nguyễn Hoàng Yến Nhi competes in Group H at the ongoing 10th World Championship 3-Cushion Ladies. Photo webthethao.vn|
The 10th World Championship 3-Cushion Ladies is ongoing with the same format and at the same venue in Heerhugowaard.
Việt Nam is represented by Phùng Kiện Tường and Nguyễn Hoàng Yến Nhi.
Tường is in Group B against Pruim Mirjam of the hosts and Cardoso Estela of Spain.
Nhi is in Group H playing Mortensen Marianne of Denmark and Gok Arzu of Turkey.
Therese Klompenhouwer of the hosts is the defending champion and favourite for this event. She will try to win her fifth world title. The final is scheduled for Thursday. VNS