|Phạm Tiến Sản of Việt Nam (left) runs in the men's duathlon at the 31st SEA Games last May. He will defend his No 1 place in the 32nd Games on May 6. VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese triathlon team is gearing up to defend their title and grab more medals at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, set to open on May 5 in Phnom Penh.
This year, a formidable 10-strong team will represent Việt Nam, hoping to build on their past successes.
At the previous SEA Games, the Vietnamese triathlon team shocked the world when unseeded athlete Phạm Tiến Sản clinched the gold medal in the men's duathlon category.
In a first for Việt Nam, Nguyễn Thị Phương Trinh secured a bronze medal, setting the bar high for the team's performance at future games.
The team touched down on May 3 in Kep Province, one of the five SEA Games localities.
"Hà Văn Nhật and Sản are representatives in the men's individual duathlon while Nguyễn Thị Thúy Vân Trinh are to compete in the women's individual duathlon," said coach Nguyễn Anh Tuấn. "Lâm Quang Nhật and Nguyễn Thị Kim Cương are triathletes while Nguyễn Thị Kim Tuyến, Nguyễn Hoàng Dung, Hoàng Văn Hải and Vũ Đình Duân are aquathlon athletes."
"My players are born from 1991 to 2004, the youngest and most promising team of Việt Nam in the SEA Games."
Team manager Nguyễn Thu Phương said her athletes are in high spirits. They have several days to familiarise themselves with the routes and the weather.
Sản is expected to maintain his position as No 1 in his class. The reigning champion chose Hà Tiên City in Kiên Giang Province to train for weeks to prepare for his campaign.
"Hà Tiên has the same weather as Kep, so it is suitable for us to train," said Sản. "It's only about 30km from Hà Tiên to Kep."
He said: "In the 32nd Games, the distances for cycling and running were reduced by half compared to the previous Game. It will make the competition more fierce, but I will try my best for the gold medal".
Trinh is looking to improve on her result from 2019.
The 26-year-old fell and was injured at the 31st Games. The four-finish place was a strong push for her to come back this year in Cambodia.
|Lâm Quang Nhật finishes first in the men's triathlon at the National Sports Games last December. He is expected to be top three in the 32nd SEA Games on May 8. VNA/VNS Photo|
Former SEA Games swimming champion Quang Nhật will take charge of the medal task for Team Việt Nam in the triathlon.
Nhật retired from swimming in 2018, but a year later, he began training in triathlon and has dominated the national tournaments. Quang Nhật was unsuccessful with two previous SEA Games under the new sport last year.
In preparation for the Games, Nhật trained for a month in Thailand, applying a special training plan and nutrition regime with the support of high-technology equipment.
"Training in Phuket with pro coaches and experienced triathletes pushed my abilities," said Quang Nhật, who will compete in both aquathlon and triathlon.
"Technology helps to analyse my strong and weak points so that I can adjust my plan to improve my result," he said, adding that all were to help him make a breakthrough this Games. However, rivals from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia were really strong.
Similar to Nhật, Cương was a SEA Game champion in cycling. She has not quit cycling yet but switched to triathlon after earning remarkable results in domestic tournaments.
The national champion knew she would face world-class rivals in Cambodia, but there was hope for everyone, she said.
|Young and strong triathletes of Việt Nam will compete for medals on May 6-8. VNS Photo Nguyễn Tuấn Anh|
The aquathlon (swimming and running) will be held on May 6. Duathlon (cycling and running) will be a day later, and the triathlon (swimming, cycling, running) will be on May 8.
There are a total of seven medal sets for individual and teams events. The Filipino competitors are top title favourites as triathlon has been trained in the country for decades, and they set their domination in SEA Games for many editions.
This year, host Cambodia expect to enter the top three after they have naturalised several athletes from Europe. VNS