Nguyễn Thị Huyền competes at the HCM City International Track and Field Việt Nam Open in July. Huyền will run for gold at the 30th SEA Games this December. Photo webthethao.vn
HÀ NỘI Nguyễn Thị Huyền and Quách Thị Lan are serious contenders for gold medals at the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines.
Defending champion Huyền recorded a treble at the last Games in Malaysia, winning the women’s 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay.
Huyền, 26, announced her retirement last year when she was pregnant, but she made brilliant comeback in July at the HCM City International Track and Field Việt Nam Open, where she triumphed in the 400m hurdles, and 4x200m and 4x400m relays.
Three months later, she easily took golds in her favourite events of the 400m and 400m hurdles at the national championships, but Lan was absent due to injury.
Her outstanding performance forced the National Sports Administration to take a special decision by adding her to the Việt Nam’s SEA Games delegation.
“My results are getting better, and I'm reaching the peaks I hit in the past. The more I train, the better I get. It's made me more confident to try harder,” said Huyền, who is the mother of a 10-month girl.
“I am confident but I still need to work hard because I will face many naturalised runners at the SEA Games. I should run without any pressure and just stay focused.
“I had to overcome challenges after giving birth before getting back to training. I hope to reach my peak at the Games to make all this work worthwhile,” she said.
According to head coach Vũ Ngọc Lợi, Huyền had quickly regained her form.
Huyền will compete in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay, although she wants a chance to defend her title in the 400m. She is also a substitute in the 4x200m relay.
“She is doing great. She has a problem with her nerves during competition. She will be No 2 in the (400m) team, behind Asian champion (Quách Thị) Lan,” he said.
Lan, 24, took over the top spot after Huyền left competition.
She won gold in the 400m hurdles at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia in September, setting a personal best and national record of 55.30sec. She also won the same event at the Asian Championship in Qatar in April.
“I am injury-free and have completed my preparations. I am ready and confident for the Games,” said Lan.
In the Philippines, Lan will take part in the 400m, 400m hurdles, 4x400m and 4x400m mixed relays.
“It is hard to talk about how many golds I could win. I just want to do well in all four,” she said.
“Athletes always compete under pressure but my teammates and I will not let this pressure affect us. We will compete with an open mind which will help to push us ahead.”
Lan has competed at three Games but has never won an individual gold.
“It is really unlucky. First it was an injury I sustained just days ahead of the tournament, then my rivals were just to fast for me, even though I tried my best.”
This time Lan is at her peak and will face the comeback of her teammate Huyền, who may threaten her golden hopes.
However she considers it an encouragement.
“It is no problem for me. Her return provides strong motivation for me. It pushes me to work harder and both of us could lift our results. It is good for Việt Nam in general,” she said.
Athletics will be held from December 6-10 at the New Clark Athletic Stadium in Tarlac Province, about 100km from Manila.
Việt Nam, who overthrew Thailand’s long time domination in athletics at the Kuala Lumpur Games with 17 golds, has set a target of at least 15 golds to top the table again. VNS
Quách Thị Lan is Việt Nam's No 1 over 400m. Photo webthethao.vn