|Hà Thị Nguyên (right) defends her title in the women’s 62kg taekwondo category. — VNA/VNS Photo Quốc Khánh|
HÀ NỘI — Hà Thị Nguyên pocketed a gold medal for Việt Nam in the women’s taekwondo 62kg category in the Malaysian Southeast Asian Games yesterday.
Nguyên came from behind to beat Pauline Louise Lopez of the Philippines 4-3 for a berth in the final.
The defending champion then defeated Shaleha Fitriana Yusuf of Indonesia 21-10 to take the first title for her country on the eighth official day of the tournament.
“My rival is very strong. She championed the Asian tournament and the SEA Games. However, I set a high target for myself, because I represented millions of people at this Games. I asked myself to win every match,” Nguyên said.
Her teammate Phạm Thị Thu Hiền, however, lost 9-10 to Benjarat Yangtrakul of Thailand in the last second in the women’s 57kg class match. Hiền took home a silver.
On the men’s side, Lý Hồng Phúc had a perfect start, but received a 11-14 defeat from Morrison Happer of the Philippines and had to settle for a bronze medal in the men’s 74kg pool.
An hour later, Nguyễn Thị Như Ý, mother of a six-year-old son, stepped on the top podium after she won in the women’s 78kg category of judo.
Ý, 36, beat Aye Aye from Myanmar in the final with a ’golden point’ and brought home the fourth gold of her career.
“I am tired and hungry now. I have a gold. Let’s talk later,” Ý said during a video phone, while sharing her happiness with her husband after her victory.
“The heavy weight category is not popular with Vietnamese women. Ý has been a member of the national team for a long time. She has worked hard, although she would take her son along during practice and competitions. Many people did not believe in her ability to win a medal. However, she successfully completed the task,” said Nguyễn Hữu An, head of the judo department of the National Sports Administration. “She is really special and an outstanding athlete of the team.”
In the women’s 70kg category, Nguyễn Thị Diệu Tiên beat Binti Aisyh of Malaysia with an ippon to take a bronze.
Việt Nam’s sepak takraw team grabbed a silver after they were defeated 21-15, 20-22, 9-21 by Thailand in the women’s team final.
In the men’s 9-ball billiards, Dương Quốc Hoàng lost 5-9 to Carlo Biado of the Philippines to have a silver. His teammate Nguyễn Anh Tuấn secured a bronze.
In futsal, the women’s squad bagged a silver after beating Indonesia 2-1 in their last-round match, trailing only Thailand in the ranking table.
Both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams earned bronze medals in Kuala Lumpur.
The men’s squad defeated Malaysia 25-19, 25-18, 22-25, 25-17 in the third-place playoff.
The women’s team won 25-27, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 over the Philippines and were placed third. For the first time in 16 years, Việt Nam did not win a berth in the final match. It was their lowest ranking in the eight previous Games, which saw them take the silver.
The team then said goodbye to their veteran attacker Phạm Kim Huệ.
The 35-year-old, one of Việt Nam’s volleyball legends, said she regretted the failure of the team in her last SEA Games.
“It is my last time (in SEA Games). It is sad to see our loss,” she said.
“I have hoped to see a day when Việt Nam can beat Thailand for a gold. Unfortunately, it has not come true yet. Now, I have put my trust in my young teammates. The talented players will do the job for me,” Huệ said with tears in her eyes.
Huệ, born in 1982, was the youngest player to clinch a berth in the national team at the age of 16. Three years later she was the team’s captain.
Under her leadership, Việt Nam finished second and won a silver in their 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia. Since then, they maintained the position until two years ago in Singapore.
In muay, Trương Quốc Hùng overcame Harold of the Philippines in the quarter-finals of the men’s 67-71kg for a berth in the last-four round.
In badminton, national top player Nguyễn Tiến Minh advanced to the men’s singles’ semi-final after overthrowing No 4 seed Iskandar Zulkarnain of the hosts 16-21, 21-17, 21-18 at the Malaysia Basketball Association Stadium.
“I lost my confidence in the first set, because I do not have the best physique and was troubled by an early loss in a tournament in Thailand recently,” said Minh.
“In the break, my coach talked to me a lot, and I made some changes in the second set. The tactic worked, and I won. The third set was 50-50 for both the sides. I am 34 now, while Zulkarnain is young and strongly supported by the local fans. Luckily, I won the set, and the match,” he said.
“I hope I can maintain this peak form to win the semi-finals,” he added.
His teammate Đinh Thị Phương Hồng and Đỗ Thị Hoài also entered the semis of women’s doubles after beating the Philippines’ Barredo Leonardo and Yasbel Leonardo 2-0 in a later match.
Yesterday, Việt Nam’s chief of mission Trần Đức Phấn met with athletes and reporters in Malaysia to review their achievements after one week.
“We have met our target of winning some 49 to 59 gold medals this games,” said Phấn after Việt Nam’s 51st gold on Saturday night.
“However, we are still not sure if we can stay among the top three. To ensure a third place, Việt Nam must have up to 65 gold medals. The remaining medals are expected to be won in taekwondo, weightlifting, muay and pencak silat,” said Phấn.
At the meet, the managers also appreciated the outstanding performance of the track-and-field athletes, who took 17 gold medals, six more than expected.
“We hoped our athletics medals could balance the number of gold medals won by powerhouse Thailand in this Games and the next one. However, our athletes made magic with their incredible success,” he said, adding that a bonus of VNĐ1.1 billion (US$49,300) was awaiting them at home.
Phấn also highlighted the performance of the swimming team who won 10 gold medals. Among the swimmers, Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên was the best with eight gold and two records in her bag.
However, he also expressed his disappointment about the loss suffered by the U22 football team.
The team were unexpectedly eliminated from the biennial tournament after the group round.
Phấn, who is the deputy head of the National Sports Administration, said he would have to work with the Việt Nam Football Federation to carry out plans to boost the sport. — VNS
|Nguyễn Thị Như Ý of Việt Nam (left) beat Aye Aye from Myanmar in the women’s 78kg judo event. VNA/VNS Photo Quốc Khánh|