Overwhelming power: Nguyen Thi Lua (upper) holds her opponent in the National Wrestling Championship in the women's 48kg freestyle. Lua will compete in the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, on November 12-27. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Truong
HA NOI — Viet Nam's wrestlers will need all the luck they can get if they are to win a medal at the upcoming Asian Games (ASIAD) this November.
According to managers, the pressure lies on competitors in the female light weight categories who have the best chance of success.
They will face stiff competition from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and China who are world powerhouses and favourites to take the gold medals at their biggest tournament of the year.
Viet Nam's athletes will struggle to progress if they come up against such tough opposition in the early rounds.
"There is a big gap between Viet Nam and other Asian nations. Our best chances are in the light weight divisions. To achieve our target of winning a medal, we need the luck of the draw so we avoid strong rivals in the opening rounds," said Nguyen The Long, head of the Wrestling Department of the National Sports Administration.
The main reason for this quality divide is attributed to a shortage of international experience due to a lack of cash.
At the previous games in Qatar four years ago, Viet Nam's athletes acquitted themselves well but despite the fact many said that their technique was good, they were unable to progress.
Viet Nam's top four wrestlers competed in Doha but none of them, including the world youth silver medal holder Le Thi Trang in the 48kg category, managed to make it onto the medal podium.
They lost because they had no experience and got nervous in important matches. The only way to deal with that is through competition practice.
"We don't have the money to send them on foreign training courses or to compete at international tournaments although it's been spoken about a lot. It's a real pity for my athletes," said Long.
The national team members can only train with each other, but that doesn't help them to improve very much.
"They still show progress through local training but it is slow, and they cannot keep up with the top levels of world wrestling," Long added.
In Guangzhou, Viet Nam will participate in all four weight categories for women. Nguyen Thi Lua in the women's 48kg class and Luong Thi Quyen in the women's 55kg pool are two potential medal candidates. Both of them topped this year's national championship and won silver medals in continental competitions last year.
"Lua is Viet Nam's best athlete at present. Her competitive style has changed a lot, and she is faster, stronger and more accurate. I was really surprised by her improvement and hope that she can bring it into play at ASIAD," said Long.
Her main rival will be Chiharu Icho of Japan who pocketed a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics two years ago.
Meanwhile Quyen will have a tough time competing against another Japanese athlete, Saori Yoshida, who is is the Olympic and world champion.
The wrestling events will be held on November 1-7. — VNS