|Bigger splash: Nguyen Thi Anh Vien is eyeing more gold medals at the 28th SEA Games in Singapore. — Photo todayonline.com
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam have been set a goal of winning from 60 to 70 gold medals to rank in the top three at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Singapore from June 5-16.
"We have created the optimum conditions for Vietnamese athletes to train and reach their peak at the Games. We want to finish in the top three on the medals table," said Tran Duc Phan, deputy head of the National Sports Administration and chief of the Vietnamese delegation to Singapore.
Thailand, Indonesia and hosts Singapore are likely to be strong rivals for Viet Nam.
Viet Nam will send 420 athletes to compete in 28 out of the 36 sports at the Games.
The track and field team will feature veterans Quach Thi Lan, Quach Cong Lich, Nguyen Thanh Phuc, Nguyen Thanh Ngung, Tran Thi Hue Hoa and Nguyen Van Lai, and have a target of 10-11 gold medals.
"My teammates and I are training very hard at the Ha Noi-based National Sports Training Centre in preparation for the Games. My goal is to successfully defend my gold medals in the men's 5,000m and 10,000m events which I won at the 2013 Games," said Lai.
It is the first time Vietnamese swimmers have been set a target of winning 10 gold medals. Among them, Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, 19, is expected to bag six golds.
Vien has qualified to compete in the women's 400m medley and 200m backstroke events at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Vien is now working with Anthony Teeters who guided Ryan Lochte to success at the Episcopal club in the US. She won a gold medal in the women's 200m medley at a swimming event in the US in March.
The gymnastics team are aiming for eight gold medals, and world bronze medallist Phan Thi Ha Thanh is hoping to land at least three gold medals.
The pencak silat, fencing and wushu teams are all aiming for six gold medals each, while the rowing, canoeing and taekwondo teams are chasing four apiece.
Shooting is often a gold mine for Viet Nam at the regional sporting festival, but at this year's event, the team has set a modest target of four titles after hosts Singapore cut several disciplines Viet Nam are strong in.
Speed up for SEA Games
Viet Nam have sent 18 teams on overseas training courses to prepare for the event. Swimmers and runners are training in the US and Japan, shooters in South Korea, rowers in Singapore, gymnasts in Canada, and wushu and table tennis players in China.
At the National Sports Training Centre in Ha Noi, athletes are up at the crack of dawn to train, and are receiving a food allowance of VND300,000 (US$14) a day.
However, the cost of food and accommodation for each athlete at the forthcoming tournament will be $50 a day, plus an additional $20 for daily expenses.
It is estimated to cost Viet Nam over VND20 billion ($930,000) for its delegation of 640 members including officials, coaches and athletes.
At the last Games in 2013, Viet Nam ranked third in the overall medal standings with 73 gold medals, 86 silvers and 86 bronzes, after Thailand and hosts Myanmar. — VNS