Việt Nam’s No 1 swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên is expected to bring home gold medals at the upcoming SEA Games 31 held in Việt Nam next year. — Photo cafebiz.vn
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s top swimmer Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên will be the country's main medal hope at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 31 to be held in Việt Nam next year.
According to experts, although winning Olympic gold will be very difficult for Viên, winning seven gold medals at the regional event is within her reach.
According to Trần Đức Phấn, deputy director of the National Sports Administration, the administration is planning to hire a foreign expert to coach Viên, but these efforts have been hamstrung by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After many years of training in the US, this year, Viên has been working at the National Sports Training Centre in HCM City.
Instead of focusing on many disciplines, Viên is focusing on key distances, especially in the women’s 400m medley.
At the start of this year, Viên was quite sad when she had to split up with a longtime teacher.
At one point, she shared in the press that she wanted to continue to be coached by Đặng Anh Tuấn. However, now, according to the leaders of the National Sports Training Centre, Viên has gotten used to her new training regime.
The 1996-born swimmer had been training under coach Tuấn since 2011. She performed well under his tutelage, until recent years when she began to struggle, particularly at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, where she failed to win a medal.
At the 30th SEA Games last year in the Philippines, Viên won six gold medals, two short of her goal.
Early this year, Tuấn told the National Sports Administration he would stop coaching Viên as Tuấn was involved in a scandal related to borrowing money from former model Trang Trần.
“According to the proposal of the Aquatic Sports Association, Viên will be coached by a Chinese expert. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work cannot be implemented. In case of not hiring experts, Viên can be sent to train in Hungary,” said Phấn.
In addition to the normal diet of the other athletes, Viên is provided with more nutritional supplements and tonics.
Director of the sports training centre in HCM City, Võ Quốc Thắng, said Viên has a great dedication to Vietnamese sports and deserves good treatment.
“Compared to other athletes, Viên is very special. Viên's appetite was very great right from the time she was in America. In my opinion, to help athletes, it is necessary to ensure they have enough nutrition,” said Thắng.
Food of champions. — Photo tienphong.vn
Viên won 10 gold medals in 10 different events at the 2011 National Swimming Championship at the age of 15, before taking home two silvers from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia the same year.
She made her Olympics debut as the youngest athlete of Việt Nam in London in 2012, competing in the women’s 200m backstroke and 400m medley events.
Viên then took three golds, two silvers and one bronze, and broke two records in 200m backstroke and 400m medley at the 2013 SEA Games.
At the 2014 Asian Games, Viên won the bronze medals which made history for Việt Nam to win a medal at the continental competition.
At the 2015 SEA Games, Viên took eight gold medals, one silver and one bronze to help Việt Nam secure second place in swimming behind host Singapore.
Viên also competed in the 2016 Olympics but did not win any medals.
At the 2017 SEA Games, Viên also won eight gold medals, breaking three Games records. — VNS