|Flag carrier: Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam gives the national flag to Viet Nam's Asian Games (ASIAD) chief-de-mission Lam Quang Thanh during a sending-off ceremony in Ha Noi on Saturday. Viet Nam will take part in ASIAD with 199 members, aiming to win at least two gold medals. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam leaves today in hopes of capturing at least two gold medals in the 17th Asian Games (ASIAD) in Incheon, South Korea.
The goal, if achieved, will serve as an improvement of its performance in previous ASIAD tournaments. At the Games, held every four years, the 199-strong Viet Nam contingent will meet rivals from 45 countries and territories and will compete in 21 of 31 official sports events in Incheon.
At the send-off ceremony here on Saturday, Lam Quang Thanh, chief-de-mission and deputy head of the National Sports Administration, said: "Throughout the years, we have trained hard and taken part in many international training courses and competitions to sharpen our skills. The careful preparation makes us believe that we are ready for the ASIAD."
Thanh told reporters the ASIAD was the most important event for Viet Nam this year. The country has outstanding and well-prepared athletes focusing on Olympic sports like shooting, as well as track and field, swimming, weightlifting and gymnastics. These are the events where the nation hopes to win.
The official also revealed that martial arts, which have always proven to be Viet Nam's gold mine in tournaments, would also shoulder the task of lifting the contingent to the 15th overall rank in the medal tally.
At the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam shared the hardships in training of the athletes and coaches and encouraged the delegation to strike for national glory.
"Many difficulties remain, but the government still paid attention to sports, and Viet Nam's athletes have shown great achievements in the last Southeast Asian Games and the recent Youth Olympic Games," Dam said.
"I know our athletes have overcome these obstacles and are ready for the ASIAD, the biggest sports competition of Asia, where the best athletes gather for victories. I wish all the best for them in Incheon and hope they will achieve success in the tournament, bringing into play their strong points and grabbing gold medals," he added.
"They will also be Viet Nam's goodwill ambassadors, introducing our people, culture and the country to international friends."
On behalf of the athletes, gymnast Pham Phuoc Hung gave thanks for support from sports officials and the Government and promised to give their best performance in the spirit of fair play and in accordance with the rules.
"We have enjoyed training courses and tournaments through the years and have improved our technique. Recently we took part in an event in South Korea which helped to familiarise us with the climate and conditions of competition there," said Hung.
The delegation will be at the Athletes Village tomorrow and will receive help from six Vietnamese-speaking volunteers.
Do Quang Hien, head of V-League's Ha Noi T&T, is offering big bonuses for athletes.
For individuals, the gold medal winner will receive VND50 milion (US$2,400) while the silver medal winner will receive VND30 million and the bronze medal winner, VND15 million.
For teams, the gold medal winner will receive VND100 million while the silver medal winner will receive VND60 million and the bronze medal winner, VND30 million.
Viet Nam earned its first medal, a bronze, at the 1982 ASIAD. Taekwondo fighter Tran Quang Ha bagged the first gold medal in the nation's history at the Hiroshima Games in 1994.
In the last Games in Guangzhou, China, karate athlete Le Bich Phuong won the only medal for Viet Nam on the last day of competition. — VNS