Swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên poses with the national flag and one of her gold medal grabbed at the 30th SEA Games. Photo nld.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Many of Việt Nam's top athletes were born in the Year of the Rat and a lot is expected of them this lunar year, with the Olympics and World Cup qualification on the horizon.
Swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên is one of them and the Cần Thơ Province native is targeting an Olympic berth after a stellar Southeast Asian (SEA) Games performance last year.
“Viên will practice locally and take part in a range of short training courses as well as compete in tournaments abroad to improve her abilities,” said Vương Bích Thắng, head of the Việt Nam Sports Administration.
“She is one of the key athletes to be strongly supported for Olympic duty. We hope she will win slots in the 200m medley and 400m medley which are her strong points, or backstroke which she is really good at,” said Thắng.
Weightlifter Hoàng Thị Duyên was also born in the Year of the Rat and won three gold medals from the Rome Weightlifting World Cup two days ago.
While the Giáy ethnic minority girl is not as decorated as Viên, there are high hopes for her.
Duyên worked hard for six years since her first day with weightlifting in 2012 before winning a silver medal at the World Championship’s 59kg category in 2018.
She then triumphed at the 30th Southeast Asian Games in her debut last year in the Philippines.
Duyên and teammates trained hard during Tết (Lunar New Year) for the Rome event and she made a hat-trick of titles.
She is now one of the world top eight lifters in her category.
Duyên will have one more task at April’s Asian championships to secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Duyên said the World Cup win was a strong push for her. She will have to do her best in the Asian event if she wants to make a bang at the Olympics.
Rat runner Nguyễn Thị Oanh is one of the country's top best track-and-field athletes and won three individual golds in December’s SEA Games. She also set a new record of 10min 0.02sec in the 3,000m steeplechase, an event she won bronze in at the Asian Games in 2018.
Oanh expects to run in the Olympics in this event too if she can pass the qualification time of 9.30min.
“I always want to contribute all of my ability for the nation’s sport. My biggest dream is to experience the Olympic atmosphere,” she said.
Meanwhile, Year of the Rat-born midfielder Phan Văn Đức has made his comeback to the field after nearly a year of absence due to injury.
Đức, who tied the knot with his girlfriend yesterday in Nghệ An Province, was a key player in the squads that won the AFF Cup and a silver at the AFC U23 tournament in 2018.
A knee injury prevented him from joining the national team at the recent 2022 World Cup qualification matches as well as the young squad at the SEA Games.
“I had to rest from both club and national teams for a long time. In the Year of Rat, I wish best things for myself and friends,” said the midfielder who has trained with Sông Lam Nghệ An FC ahead of the new season.
Coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng of Nghệ An said the return of the 23-year-old would strengthen for his club but also the national team.
Other athletes of the Rat year are expected to shine in 2020 include national football defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh; karate artist Trang Cẩm Lành; SEA Games pencak silat champion Trần Thị Thêm; SEA Games winner-runner Phạm Thị Huệ; and rising badminton star Phạm Cao Cường. VNS
Midfielder Phan Văn Đức back in action after injury. He expects to find a berth in the national team in the coming World Cup qualifiers. Photo nld.com.vn