Nguyễn Tiến Minh seen playing at the 2019 Việt Nam Open. He will continue seeking his fourth Olympic spot by taking part in the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters in Bangkok from January 21-26. Photo plo.vn
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam badminton legend Nguyễn Tiến Minh is targeting a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, hoping to make it his fourth appearance at the games.
Minh, 36, is the only Vietnamese player who has taken part in three Olympic tournaments since the 2008 Bejing Games.
His outstanding career has made him the national No 1 in badminton for more than two decades.
Minh is currently No 52 in the world and his Olympics’ qualified ranking is No 24. If he could maintain his position until April 30, he will be heading to Japan.
“2020 Olympics is an important competition. I will try my best to win a place there. This year, I have also set a target for myself to be in the world top 30 too,” said Minh.
“I have had successful tournaments in 2019 which bring me a lot of points for the world ranking. Currently I have about 70 per cent chance to take part.”
Minh won three international titles at the Yonex North Harbour International, the Yonex Waikato International, both in New Zealand, and the Logas International Badminton Classics in Nigeria.
He also advanced to the semi-final of the Je Wilson International Series in Ghana and quarter-finals of four different tournaments including the Việt Nam Open.
His best result of the year was a bronze medal at the Asian championship in April. It was the first time a Vietnamese had reached the top three of the continental competition.
Minh was also the first Vietnamese athlete to finish third at the world championship in 2013.
He is the only athlete to enter world top 10 in 2009-12 and his highest position was No 4 in 2010.
To improve his world ranking, Minh has to take part in between 12-14 international tournaments per year. To maintain the current position, he needs to play in a number of other tournaments before the end of April.
He will start his 2020 at the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters in Bangkok from January 21-26.
It is a World Tour Super 300 event which provides US$170,000 for the high-ranking players and up to 7,000 points for the winners.
The event attracts strong athletes such as world No 3 Chen Long and No 9 Shi Yu Qi of China, No 8 Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong and No 13 Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia.
The Vietnamese, who just recovered from his thigh injury that prevented him from the recent SEA Games, is not seeded at this event. He will begin from the qualification where he faces Toma Junior Popov of France at the Indoor Stadium Huamark.
Popov, 21, is the world No 65. The 1.96m is one of rising stars in his home town.
“This tough event is during our Lunar New Year festival when all Vietnamese people are together with their families. I could not join mine, but hope that I would go far in Thailand, which will be my big gift for the holidays,” said Minh.
Accompany Minh in Bangkok will be Nguyễn Thùy Linh, the No 1 female in Việt Nam and world No 48.
Linh also plays from the qualifier against French Qi Xuefei who is the world No 41. — VNS