Young wushu artists expected to shine at 32nd SEA Games

April 24, 2023 - 07:30
The coaching board had to make a rejuvenation plan, calling on young martial artists to take their places.

SEA Games

Nông Văn Hữu is one of Việt Nam's young wushu martial artists at the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese talented youngsters are hoping for a golden performance in wushu's taolu at the Cambodian 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next month.

Among Việt Nam's 10 golds at the 31st Games, four were in taolu (performance) martial art, helping the team to top the medal tally.

After the success, some veteran athletes decided to not defend their titles in Phnom Penh for different reasons.

The coaching board had to make a rejuvenation plan, calling on young martial artists to take their places.

A team of eight athletes, men and women, has been called on to prepare for the 32nd Games. 

"The absence of seniors like reigning champion Phạm Quốc Khánh and silver medallist Đặng Tiểu Bình leaves a hole in my team," said coach Nguyễn Văn Chương.

"Athletes can’t compete forever. They will retire someday. In our team, we have potential and talented artists who are developing and are close to reaching their predecessors' level. They are expected to complete our task," said Chương who referred to Nông Văn Hữu, Nguyễn Thị Hiền and Nguyễn Lệ Chi.

"When Khánh retires, Hữu is a successful substitute. When Bình is injured, Hiền is good enough to replace her."

Hữu, 24, won two bronze medals in the men's nanquan (southern fist) and nandao (southern broadsword) at his debut last Games in Hà Nội.

He is believed to be a successor of retired Khánh and will aim to defend Việt Nam's title in nandao while delivering better performance in nanquan, not excluding the possibility of taking a gold.

Nguyễn Thị Hiền will enjoy her first SEA Games this May. — Photo

For Hiền, 23, and Chi, 20, this will be their first time at the regional sport meet. Both have swept local tournaments to earn their spots in the national team.

Hiền will compete in the women's qiangshu (spear) and jianshu (straight sword). Chi will perform in women's taijiquan (tai chi) and taijijian (tai chi sword) instead of Nguyễn Thị Minh Huyền who won a taijijian silver last Games but could not compete this year.

“I plan to have my best performance at the 32nd SEA Games and will change the colour of my medal," said Hữu.

"Normally, athletes suffer mental problem when competing. However, I will set myself in most comfortable conditions, regardless of the surrounding factors to show the best performance.

"I dare not admit that I am a successor of Khánh, who was an experienced athlete. I am in a lower level in both terms of achievement and performance ability. I am lucky to replace Khánh in the international arena."

Hiền added: “Every SEA Games participant expects to have medal. I do not force myself to have gold or silver but to perform to the best of my ability and have a good performance.”

World Youth Championship winner, Chi, said: “I am excited to compete in my first SEA Games. Last year, when I was in the stand cheering my seniors I dreamed of the day I was taking part.

"It is my honour and pride to represent Việt Nam. I feel a little pressure but hope to have good results for Việt Nam."

The young athletes will be assisted by seniors Dương Thúy Vi and Hoàng Phương Giang who are expected to defend their titles. Vi is defending champion of qiangshu and jianshu while Giang is the changquan (long fist) winner.

After more than 20 years, Vi, who will be 30 on May 11, has been one of the most successful wushu athletes of Việt Nam. She has won titles in every level of tournament from local to world event. She has won at four SEA Games editions from 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2021. Her latest title was from the World Games in the US last July.

Dương Thúy Vi is expected to defend her title in qiangshu and jianshu which has been combined into one event. Photo

Giang, 31, will compete in her last Games and wants to end on a high this May.

"In Cambodia, I will show everything that I have collected in 22 years with wushu so that I will have nothing to regret when leaving the Games," said Giang who expects a double title this year.


Hoàng Phương Giang hopes for good results from the SEA Games, which will be her last. Photo

At last Games, she competed in the combined daoshu and gunshu event but finished third, failing to defend her title. This time, the 2013 world silver medal holder wants to take it back.

This year, the organisers made a change by combining events together.

Athletes will perform in two events taijiquan/taijijian, qiangshu/jianshu and nangun/nandao for one set of medals.

"Due to the combination, the number of events equaling to medal set will be reduced by one third, making the competition more aggressive," coach Chương said. 

"These changes force athletes to work harder to make sure their performance is the best to get highest results. My team has had good preparation for the Games."

His team will compete from May 10-12 at the Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh. VNS