|Cambodian artists perform at the closing ceremony of the 31st SEA Games in Hà Nội. Việt Nam plans to take 100 golds at the Phnom Penh event in May. VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI Việt Nam has set its sights on an ambitious goal of winning at least 100 gold medals and a place in the top three among participating nations in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) to be held in Cambodia in May.
While this target may seem lofty, it is important to note that it is only half of what Việt Nam achieved at the 31st Games held in Hà Nội last May, due to the smaller number of sports Vietnamese athletes will be participating in.
The biggest challenge for Việt Nam is that Cambodia has eliminated many sports that Việt Nam are strong in, such as shooting, rowing, canoeing, kurash and bodybuilding.
Việt Nam will compete in 30 sports among the 47 available in the Phnom Penh event.
In addition, the number of athletes from each country participating in several sports is limited, a rule that is not applied for the hosts.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoàng Đạo Cương has asked the sports leaders to push up their preparation and training programmes to create the best conditions for athletes at the Games.
Việt Nam will also face strong nations like the Philippines and Thailand in athletics, nations that have naturalised some international athletes.
|Nguyễn Linh Na of Việt Nam (2nd right) runs in the women's heptathlon event at the 31st Games. Her gold helped Việt Nam top the athletics medal tally. — VNA/VNS Photo|
American Umajesty Williams, who runs in the 400m, has become eligible to represent the Philippines recently. The 23-year-old's best time is 45.76sec, better than Joshua Atkinson, who won gold at the SEA Games last May.
Williams won a silver from a local tournament for junior athletes in 2018. The same year, he and three teammates claimed a silver in the World U20 Championships' 4x400m.
|Umajesty Williams of the Philippines will be a new face in the men's 400m event at the 32nd Games. Photo arizonawildcats.com|
Atkinson, originally an Australian, also joined Thailand last year and won four golds, which Việt Nam had won at the 2019 Games.
"We are under high pressure ahead of the 32nd SEA Games because we did a really good job at the 31st Games with 205 golds and the top position," said the director of the Việt Nam Sports Administration, Đặng Hà Việt.
"We prepared well for the Games on home soil and enjoyed the advantage, along with other comfortable conditions which were much better than the coming Games.
"At the same time, Cambodia released rules that cut our strong sports and reduced many events. It leads to a big achievement gap between the two Games for the Việt Nam team."
Việt Nam's competitors have been called on to do everything possible to be ready to face these challenges.
''Currently, all athletes are summoned for intensive training programmes locally. Some have been and will have international training ahead of the Games," said Trần Đức Phấn, deputy director of the administration.
"We are a strong team in the region, and with our real strength, we can definitely maintain our top-three position, but we can't be subjective," he said.
The 32nd Games will officially begin on May 5 and end on May 17 in Cambodia. Football will start earlier on April 29. VNS