Coach Trần Văn Sỹ and runner Nguyễn Thị Oanh train in Hà Nội before the 30th SEA Games. — Photo webthethao.vn
HÀ NỘI — When Phạm Thị Huệ finished her SEA Games’ 10,000m race in first place, she shared her joy with one man watching from the stands.
There were tears in both their eyes.
For the man spectator watching was none other than Trần Văn Sỹ, her coach and mentor. And this was triple joy for him, as he is also the coach of fellow winning athletes Đỗ Quốc Luật and Nguyễn Thị Oanh.
The group could not be separated as they all hugged each other tightly.
Under his reign, his athletes won six gold medals at the Philippines Games in Việt Nam’s total of 16 in athletics.
With their achievement, Việt Nam confirmed its No 1 position in the region although they did not have best competitors at the biennial sporting event.
After Huệ, Oanh grabbed three golds in the women’s 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase grabbing a record in the latter event. Luật dominated in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase and Dương Văn Thái triumphed in the men’s 1,500m.
Moreover, Sỹ’s athletes also pocketed a total of six silvers and bronzes in other categories. The result makes him one of Việt Nam’s five most successful coaches of the year, his first honour after 10 years of coaching career.
Among the famous athletes under his belt are runner Nguyễn Văn Lai who won three SEA Games in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Lai, who set up the Games’ 5,000m record, also took part in the 2019 Games but he failed to defend his titles in the 5,000m and 10,000m, losing to naturalised runner Kieran Tuntivate of Thailand.
Oanh won a bronze in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2018 Asian Games. Earlier, she won a gold in the same event at the Asian championship in 2014. She has been classified as one of Vietnamese athletes who reach continental level.
Huệ, after her silver in the 29th Games, went one better this time around picking up a gold last month.
The 47-year-old coach also guided two of his junior athletes, Lê Tiến Long and Đoàn Thu Hằng, to qualify for the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Argentina.
His athletes also succeeded in key tournaments held in Việt Nam. Among them, runner Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ has qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon after her first place at the International VnExpress Marathon in June.
Lệ won a bronze medal at the women's marathon event, which was the first medal of Việt Nam athletics team at the SEA Games.
Coach Sỹ said: “To me, nothing is more important than the best for the athletes.”
“I set targets for each of them and work on plans to make sure they would reach their highest results but I have never created pressure on them. It is better to ignore talk about result. It would help them to feel comfortable and free their mind ahead of tournaments.
“No pressure means better results and sometime surprises may happen,” he added.
Although he has moved to a coaching job for many years but the trainer also often takes part in events with his athletes.
He said the running experience would help him understand how hard runners felt during their races, so that he could adjust his training plan to make it suitable and more effective.
Sỹ and some of his athletes will start their 2020 year with a test at the Bà Rá Mountain Climbing Tournament this Sunday in Bình Phước Province.
They will take part in both men’s and women’s 10km and 21km categories, which are considered their warm-up for a hard calendar to come.
Earlier this week, a list of 14 athletes, five of them are Sỹ’s runners, has been made up. They will receive special support to be Việt Nam’s strong athletes at big tournaments this year and their most important task is to hunt Tokyo Olympics’ slots this summer.
“To date, my athletes, especially the marathoners, are doing very well. We are having much work to do this year and hope to make it the best,” Sỹ said. — VNS
Coach Trần Văn Sỹ (on bicycle) follows his marathoner Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ during her race at the 30th SEA Games last month in the Philippines. — Photo webthethao.vn