|The fencing team will compete in the Seoul Grand Prix on April 27-29 for their Paris Olympics campaign. Photos zing.vn|
HÀ NỘI Việt Nam's top fencers are set to compete in the Seoul Grand Prix from April 27-29, hoping to earn crucial points for their Paris Olympics campaign and prepare for the 32nd SEA Games.
Representing Việt Nam in the men's sabre category are Vũ Thành and Nguyễn Văn Quyết, while Bùi Thị Thu Hà, Phạm Thị Thu Hoài, and Phùng Thị Khánh Linh will compete in the women's class.
The team faces a tough challenge as they go up against some of the world's strongest fencers in Seoul.
An, the Southeast Asian No 1, is ranked 224th in the world, while Quyết is ranked 174th.
They will face formidable opponents such as world No 1 Sandro Bazadze of Georgia, No 2 Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, and No 3 Bolade Apithy from France.
The women's team faces an even greater challenge, with Linh ranked 271st, Hoài ranked 375th, and Hà not yet ranked.
They will be up against world's top three fencers Misaki Emura of Japan, Despina Georgiadou of Greece, and Anna Bashta of Azerbaijan.
Although none of the Vietnamese fencers advanced to the top 10 at the Italian Grand Prix in February, the team remains determined to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Việt Nam's plan includes international training courses and tournaments to help athletes like An earn enough points for their world ranking to qualify for the Paris event.
SEA Games approaching
After Seoul, the fencers will return home and join their teammates for final preparation before leaving for Phnom Penh for the 32nd SEA Games.
Fencing will be held from May 11-16 at the Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Last May, Việt Nam won five golds, one silver and five bronzes, placing second in the medal tally.
|Women's sabre fencers in training. They will defend both individual and team golds at the SEA Games next month. Photo zing.vn|
Among the winners, An and Hà won two golds each in both individual and team disciplines. The others went to Nguyễn Tiến Nhật in the individual épée.
"It has been almost a year," said head coach Nguyễn Tiến Việt. "Many things have changed. All participating teams such as Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and notably the hosts, have prepared really well and are thirsty for gold."
"Among 12 sets of medals, we expect to win three to four. No specific athlete is targeted for gold, but all are asked to try their best for this task."
However, An and his sabre teammates are still the top title favourites in their classes, as they have dominated at the SEA Games for years. An won four individual golds in a row, and the teammate took golds in two recent Games.
Nhật is also a highlight of the team as he has won five SEA Games titles since 2015 in both individual and team categories of épée.
On the women's side, Hà and her teammates are determined to top the podiums again.
"Singapore and Thailand are growing strongly," said Hà. "They have young and talented athletes who regularly own good speed and technique after intensive training. Meanwhile, Cambodia pays all attention to sabre, so they are also potential."
"Pressure on us is high, but we will make it a strong push. We will also learn to keep our minds stable and be brave during competitions. We will bring the victory home."
Meanwhile, rising star Linh said it was her third Games and she would do best for the title.
"I met with psychological problems and cramps, so I couldn't show my full potential. This time in Cambodia, my teammates and I had to defend our two titles. We know winning is hard, but keeping it is much more difficult. We will face really strong rivals, but we will work hard to maintain as the best sabre team in the region," Linh said. VNS