Oanh to compete three times in two days at SEA Games

April 22, 2023 - 08:58
Oanh is set to compete in most events of any Vietnamese athlete at the tournament. She will challenge in the 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m steeplechase, where she is the reigning champion.

SEA Games

Nguyễn Thị Oanh will compete in three events over two days at the Cambodian SEA Game next month. VNA/VNS Photos

Thanh Hà

HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Thị Oanh, the golden girl of Vietnamese athletics, faces her toughest rival yet - scheduling - as she prepares to defend her three SEA Games titles this May.

But for Oanh, who has battled illness and adversity to reign supreme at the regional sport meet for years, it's just another challenge to overcome.

Oanh is set to compete in most events of any Vietnamese athlete at the tournament. She will challenge in the 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m steeplechase, where she is the reigning champion.

Athletics events will take place over six gruelling days from May 6, with Oanh's first race, the 1,500m, scheduled for 10am on May 8th. Last year, she clinched gold with a blistering time of 4min 14.98sec.

Just seven hours later, Oanh will be back on track for the 5,000m, a race she dominated in 2022 with a time of 16:44.06.

Then, the following day, Oanh will compete in her strongest event - the 3,000m steeplechase. At the Hà Nội Games, she took home the gold and set a new record of 9:52.44.

As Oanh prepares to defend her hard-earned titles, all eyes will be on the indomitable athlete to see if she can once again overcome all obstacles and emerge victorious.

Her title-defending campaign will last only 31 hours, considered an exhausting physical tryout that the 29-year-old has never done before.

"Three events in two days! It is a big challenge for me," said Oanh. "But I am not worried much because I have been training hard for the SEA Games since last December. I have good preparation and will try my best for best."

Coach Trần Văn Sỹ was also confident about his runner, who has proved her abilities in both training and competing.

"Oanh owns special qualities and personalities," said Sỹ. "She is a strong-minded athlete with great will and bravery. She also has a quick recovery ability. She can run exhaustedly in the morning but nearly totally recovers with a normal heartbeat and breath rate."

Oanh and her teammates have just ended their training course in Nghệ An Province. They are now in the last touches for the SEA Games.

"We practise when the sun is high to get used to the heat, the hard weather conditions in Cambodia," said Sỹ.

"We will fly to Phnom Penh on May 6. The transit flight is long, so we have only one day to practise at the stadium. It is an added difficulty to my athletes."

Nguyễn Thị Oanh competes in the National Sports Games last December. She won four golds and set a record.

Oanh is excited. It seemed that she could not wait to run.

"I am working daily to ensure my best fitness and technique," said Oanh. "As I competed in three events, I had to do more work than others. I will overcome all difficulties to complete my task."

A legend

Oanh is small and short. Her size was the main reason she was denied her first tryout with an athlete before she officially began her life as a runner at age 15 in 2010.

Four years later, glomerulonephritis disease nearly forced Oanh to retire as doctors said she had to quit sports if she wanted to live.

Her love for running tracks and her strong determination pulled Oanh up. After six months of treatment, she returned to the routes.

It took her about three years to do everything again before she shone at the 29th SEA Games in 2017.

At the Kuala Lumpur Games, Oanh won two golds in the 1,500m and 5,000m. Two years later, in the Manila Games, she made a hattrick 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase which was repeated in the Hà Nội edition in 2022.

With eight gold medals, Oanh has proved herself an undefeated runner in these categories and has become one of the biggest stars in the region. She was said to have no worthy rival in these events in the next half-decade.

Locally, 2022 was the best-ever year in Oanh's career. After the 31st Games, where she was one of the four most valuable athletes, she competed and won four golds and one record at the National Sports Games.

She then secured the top place in the national Top 10 Athlete of the Year and the best female athlete of the Year at the Victory Cup. She was honoured as the sports figure of the year at the annual Devotion Award.

Nguyễn Thị Oanh is Việt Nam's best runner in 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m steeplechase events.

Oanh also stepped to the continental area with a bronze of 3,000m steeplechase won at the Asian Games in 2018.

At the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship in February, Oanh successfully secured gold in the 1,500m race, although she suffered insomnia and sinusitis. It was Oanh's first victory and Việt Nam's third at this competition, where she left behind powerful runners from Japan and hosted Kazakhstan.

“Her result, 4:15.55, was really good," said Sỹ. "It was close to the Asian indoor championship record. We have encouraged her to make more effort for the next tournaments."

Recently, supporters also see her participating in different running events where she took part in the half marathon and full marathon categories and stepped on the top podiums of some.

Oanh said she had set herself many targets in 2023. In addition to the most important SEA Games, she also wanted to get higher results in the Asian Games in September in China and hoped to reach Olympic standards and compete in the Paris Games in 2024. VNS