Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Top Vietnamese female swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên will compete in 10-12 categories with the aim of earning 8-10 gold medals at the upcoming 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, according to Đinh Việt Hùng, general secretary of the Việt Nam Aquatic Sports Association (VASA).
“We will adjust Viên’s competition categories when the Games begin. It depends on the schedule and real situation. The tournament rules allow us to reduce the competition categories of athletes, not increase them,” said Hùng.
At the 28th Games held in Singapore two years ago, Viên registered for 19 events. However, she only participated in 13 events to focus on her favourite races.
Viên, 20, took home eight gold, one silver and one bronze medal to become one of the best performers at the 28th Games, behind only Singapore’s Joseph Isaac Schooling, who claimed gold in all nine disciplines he participated in.
To prepare for the Games, Viên took part in the recent FINA World Swimming Championships in Hungary but didn’t perform well. She failed in the qualifying round of her strong categories – the women’s 400m medley and 200m medley.
However, Hùng said Viên and the other Vietnamese swimmers will not be focusing on the poor result.
“Viên’s goal is the Games in Malaysia,” said Hùng.
“It is not easy to win gold medals in a tournament which has high competition such as the regional sport event. Coach Hoàng Anh Tuấn and Viên will have to calculate carefully to partake in the chosen divisions, not affecting physical fitness but still fulfilling the target,” Hùng added.
According to Nguyễn Hồng Minh, former head of the National Sport Administration’s Elite Sport Department, Viên’s poor performance at the world event in Hungary doesn’t mean anything.
“The event was aimed to hone Viên’s skills. This is the period of training physical strength so it is normal when she didn’t gain a high achievement. Viên will shine in Malaysia and we will wait for new milestones of Vietnamese swimming,” said Minh.
Coach Tuấn explained that the SEA Games will take place after the world event has finished, so he has planned to not allow Viên to become overloaded.
Meanwhile, Viên says confidently: “ASEAN’s most important sporting festival has many strong rivals but I always know that my biggest rival is myself.”
As scheduled, swimming will take place on August 21-26 with 38 sets of medals up for grabs.
Viên is one of Việt Nam’s swimming stars. At the 2013 Games in Myanmar, she won three gold medals. She won a gold medal in the women’s 400m medley at the Asian Swimming Championships in April.
She also earned a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in China, and nine golds, four silvers and three bronzes at the 2014 Southeast Asian Swimming Championship in Singapore.
Việt Nam will send more than 470 athletes to compete in Malaysia on August 19-30. They will take part in 32 out of 38 sports.
At the previous games in Singapore two years ago, Việt Nam finished third with 73 golds. Thailand (95 golds) and the hosts (84 golds) secured the first and second positions, respectively. — VNS