|Ready for action: Duong Thuy Vy of Viet Nam performs during the wushu final of the women's jianshu at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon in September 2014. Vy has been tipped as a gold prospect at the Singapore SEA Games next month. — AFP/VNA Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — Veteran wushu martial artists are expected to win gold for Viet Nam at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
One of the reasons is that no new faces have entered the national team as compared to the situation two years ago.
Senior artists such as Asian Games (ASIAD) winner Duong Thuy Vy and SEA Games defending champions Pham Quoc Khanh and Hoang Thi Phuong Giang, all are in the taolu (performance) squad that is set to win titles.
The hosts have decided to remove several categories, including Viet Nam's strong points: women's and men's shansou (combat).
So, Nguyen Thi Chinh and Nguyen Thu Hoai will get no chance to defend their titles in the women's 48kg and 52kg categories, respectively.
They have introduced their strong points, the taijiquan (tai-chi-chuan) events, in competition items.
These actions, according to coach Nguyen Van Chuong, have strongly affected Viet Nam's overall results, as Vietnamese competitors had won two gold in shansou in the previous Games held in Myanmar.
"We have not much time to prepare (SEA Games will be held six months earlier than usual) and it is the same with other countries as well. We hope that our athletes will do their best and win two to four gold medals this year," said Chuong.
Vy is expected to win in jianshu (sword) and qiangshu (spear) events, which had brought her to triumph podium last year at the Asian Games in South Korea.
"My team and I had limited time to practise difficult exercises. I have been training hard from the beginning of this year; the ASIAD gold has always been a force that keeps pushing me. I hope I can draw all my strength in Singapore for victory," said Vy.
Giang plans to defend her title in the changquan (long fist) event, while Khanh, who will be playing his fourth SEA Games, wants to take another title in men's nangun (Southern staff) event, as he did two years ago.
Apart from practising at home, Vi and the taolu team were also sent to train in China. They returned home only on Sunday.
"Training and competing with the highly qualified athletes of China have helped us improve skills and techniques," said Nguyen Minh Ha, head of the Wushu Department of the National Sports Administration.
Ha said Viet Nam is among the region's top three wushu masters, but Malaysia and Indonesia have strongly developed wushu by training their youths abroad.
"They, especially Malaysia, have shown remarkable improvements in their performances at international competitions and are strongly focusing on young athletes. So, in the next five to seven years, or even this June, they can make a difference," Ha noted.
Although Viet Nam are not strong at taijiquan and taijijian (taiji sword), there are names that can make surprises.
Nguyen Thanh Tung and Tran Thi Minh Huyen are representatives of these categories.
Tung won a bronze medal at the ASIAD, while Huyen came fourth in the last Games.
In the gunshu (staff) event, ASIAD bronze medallist Nguyen Manh Quyen wants to forget the weapon breaking incident in Myanmar that got him kicked out of the competition.
"I have twice experienced this terrible problem: one in Laos' Games in 2009 and four years later in Myanmar. I was really sad when all of my efforts went worthless just because of an unlucky moment," said Quyen who has told himself not to let it happen the third time.
Apart from 12 taolu artists, Viet Nam will also send two fighters to compete at the SEA Games.
Hoang Van Cao who won a bronze at the precious Games hopes to change the colour of the medal in men's 60kg, while ‘X-factor' Nguyen Van Tai is expected to make a bang in men's 65kg pool.
"We have prepared systematically and believe the wushu team will complete their task," said Ha.
Wushu will be held on June 6-8 at the Singapore EXPO.
At the 27th Games, Viet Nam pocketed five gold, three silvers, and four bronze medals to rank second, behind hosts Myanmar. — VNS