Teen swimmer excited for career milestone in Paris

June 29, 2024 - 08:46
Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên is one of the people receiving a spot, as granted by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and will enjoy her first appearance at the world's largest sporting festival in July in France.


Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên will be Việt Nam's only female swimmer at the Paris Olympics Games 2024. Photo Việt Nam Sport Team

Thanh Hà

Hopeful. Nervous. Excited.

Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên spent weeks going through different emotions before she was finally named to represent Việt Nam in swimming at the Paris Olympics.

Tiên is one of the people receiving a spot, as granted by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and will enjoy her first appearance at the world's largest sporting festival in July in France.

It was a sweet result for the teenager who has made a great effort through the years with many remarkable achievements locally and internationally.

Swimming passion

Tiên was born in 2005 in a farming family in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, and was scouted by the provincial sports school when she was just 10.

"Like many other kids, I really loved playing with water. Having the opportunity to jump into the swimming pool is great, and I am really excited," Tiên said.

Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên and her medal collection. Photo Việt Nam Sport Team

"I am lucky to be selected in swimming. I love swimming and have been glued to it since then."

Her talent is proved through domestic competitions. She has won titles in both national junior and senior tournaments, before setting her domination in many regional age group championships.

At age 14 she became one of Team Việt Nam's youngest members at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019.

Tiên made a big bang at the 2020 National Swimming Championships when she left reigning champion Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên behind in the 200m individual medley (IM) and set a record at the age of 15.

Viên was Việt Nam's best swimmer in history, and her record of 2min 22.05sec existed for nine years before Tiên beat it.

Months earlier, Tiên also took Viên's 400m IM national age group championship record of 5:01.45. She won gold and set new heights with 5:00.60.

Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên swims in the women's 800m event at the 31st SEA Games and she earned a silver. VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

"My teammates and I have to practise tirelessly in the pool to produce strong performance in competition. It was a great honour to become a national team member in the 2019 SEA Games," Tiên said.

She made huge progress, pocketing two silvers and one bronze at the 2021 Games on home ground, and two bronzes in the 2023 edition.

After Viên's retirement in 2021, Việt Nam failed to secure golds in the women's events and Tiên's results made coaches believe that she could quickly help Việt Nam back to the top of the podium.

"The 2021 SEA Games medals were a surprise for me, as I just wanted to swim my best. But I made my marks at the regional competition, which strongly encouraged me for higher success," Tiên said.

"I hope that soon, I will reach Viên's level to bring victories for Việt Nam."

Speaking about Tiên, Phạm Văn Chương, director of the Long An Sports Training and Competition Centre, said: "Tiên is one of the most outstanding athletes of Long An. She is a woman of discipline and high determination."

"I believe that under strong support and her own effort, she will strongly develop and go further in her career, bringing Long An and Việt Nam much more success."

Road to Paris

2023 was the best year in Tiên's career.

Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên is the national record holder in the women's 200m IM. VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

After the SEA Games' bronzes, Tiên became the best athlete in both national and regional championships, winning 19 golds, helping her team enter the top three of the medal tally.

“It was a year of many milestones. I competed in the SEA Games, Asian Games and was the only Vietnamese female swimmer to take part in the world championship, from which I learnt many lessons from international athletes," said Tiên.

The world championship is the biggest international event that she takes part in. Participation is a mandatory condition for any athlete wanting to qualify for the Olympics.

Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên is at the World Aquatics Championship in 2023 in Japan. Photo of Võ Thị Mỹ Tiên

As per the rules, a national Olympic Committee with a qualified athlete of one gender may enter one swimmer of the other gender.

Việt Nam has Nguyễn Huy Hoàng already qualified in the men's side, and Tiên is currently the national leading female swimmer in Việt Nam, with an Olympic ranking of 775 points from qualifications. The 19-year-old, who is strong in freestyle categories, was the first choice of the FINA.

"I have to prepare professionally for tournaments with my own goals. I need to improve my speed and technique. I want to bring home victories," Tiên said. VNS