|Making waves: Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who is expected to win at this week's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. — Photo news.asiaone.com
HA NOI (VNS) — A delegation of 13 athletes leaves today to represent Viet Nam at the second edition of the global competition for junior athletes, the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in China.
The delegation comprises swimmers, weightlifters and volleyball players as well as a gymnast, a taekwondo artist, a badminton ace and a rower.
They will join thousands of athletes from more than 200 countries and territories when the YOG kicks off on Saturday, August 16, and wraps up on Thursday, August 28.
The athletes will compete for medals at 216 events in 28 different sports. At the recent Singapore Games, Viet Nam won one gold, one silver and two bronzes, ranking 41st among 84 delegations.
A wushu team will also fly to China in a few days. The Chinese martial art will be featured in a demonstration at the Games.
Leaders of the National Sports Administration (NSA) said no goals had been set for the athletes to enable them to compete without any pressure.
"There is no goal for Viet Nam at the YOG, but all of them are encouraged to strive to do their best," said Tran Duc Phan, NSA head of Elite Sports. "Their results will serve as the basis for sport managers' plans for them in the Olympics and in the future."
However, swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien is expected to make a splash at the Games, as her recent strong showing enabled her to achieve international fame.
In the last six months, Vien received strong support, with training courses at the world swimming hub in the United States.
The Can Tho Province-born athlete was adjudged the best swimmer at the ASEAN championships after entering the top 10 in the women's 400m individual medley category.
Dinh Viet Hung, General Secretary of the Viet Nam Aquatic Association, said Vien's best result has ranked her amongst Asia's top three swimmers.
In Nanjing, Vien will compete in nine events. But her coach, Dang Anh Tuan, said the swimmer has yet to be registered for the Games.
Tuan said the coaching board would later decide on the matter after finding out who Vien's rivals would be and what the conditions at the Games' venue were like.
The coach also kept Vien's scores under wraps to ensure that she would be totally focused on practising and competing.
"I cannot say whether she [Vien] will win or not. She still has to perfect herself. It is a must for any athlete, including world champions," Tuan added.
"In competitions, results will also depend on different factors. Vien spent time practising with elite world athletes, but it didn't seem long enough. Therefore, her score has not been consistent. She still needs more training," Hung said.
The second hopeful candidate is weightlifter Nguyen Tran Anh Tuan, 15, who will compete in the men's 56-kg category.
He will defend Viet Nam's title which his senior, Thach Kim Tuan, won in Singapore four years ago.
Tuan has just returned home from a long-term training course in Hungary where he showed no difficulty in lifting 253kg, and this is expected to lift him up to the podium.
Last August, Tuan won a silver medal at the Asian Youth Games, which was also organised in China.
He later ranked second at the world youth championships in Thailand in April, winning him a ticket to take part in the YOG.
"We have employed all means to improve Tuan's performance and ensure his top three finish," said his coach, Huynh Huu Chi. — VNS