Thanh Hóa Province swimmer Phạm Thị Vân poses with her medal for winning the 50m butterfly at the National Swimming Championship last October. Photo baothanhhoa.vn
HÀ NỘI - Last year was a nightmare for many athletes around the world but not swimmer Phạm Thị Vân who set a milestone in her career.
Việt Nam’s good management of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 allowed many local sporting events to be held, including the National Swimming Championship last October in HCM City.
While some athletes blamed their poor results on a lack of training camps, Vân was able to steal the show.
The Thanh Hóa Province-born swimmer opened her season with six golds and two silvers at the National Age Groups Swimming Championships in June in Quảng Ninh Province.
She also set tournament records in the 50m butterfly (27.85sec) and 50m backstroke (30.06).
At the National Youth Swimming Championships in July in Đà Nẵng, Vân, 15, competed against athletes in the 16-18 years old group.
The stiffer competition wasn't a problem for the girl who claimed seven golds, one silver and one bronze medal, setting a Thanh Hóa record medal haul at a national tournament.
According to coach Trịnh Văn Sáng, Vân had an incredible achievement that no other provincial athlete could match to date.
“After two tournaments for juniors, I received strong support and encouragement of family, coaches and supporters. They all believed in me and said I could do well at bigger events,” said Vân who became Thanh Hóa’s key athlete at the national championship three months later.
“I tried my best to ignore who was swimming next to me. I just looked at the finish line and swam hard,” she said.
After the three first days of the senior national championship, Vân had three silvers in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke and a bronze in the 100m backstroke, a solid performance for the youngster.
But she truly made her mark on the final day.
Vân finished first in the 50m butterfly event with a time of 27.97sec. Her amazing performance beat out SEA Games bronze medallist Lê Thị Mỹ Thảo (28.21sec) and SEA Games champion Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên (28.55sec), who could only come second and third, respectively.
“Her result is just 0.37sec behind the national record. At her age, it is a really good result and she could be better in the future,” said coach Sáng.
Nguyễn Duy Tự, director of the provincial Sports Training and Competition Centre, said it was a valuable gold for Vân individually and Thanh Hóa because it was the first time they had won in this category.
“Whenever I am in the water, I just want to do my best. I practise hard every day as my coaches say ‘practice makes perfect’,” said Vân.
“Defeating them (Thảo and Viên) was partly lucky because they were a little tired after winning events in previous days. However, it partly helps me be more confident in my ability and look forward to other targets,” Vân said.
After some time enjoying the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday with her family, Vân flew to the National Sports Training Centre 3 in Đà Nẵng to start a new journey with the national team.
“I am happy with the title. Now I will work with new coaches and teammates. I am looking forward to coming competitions,” said Vân, referring to the 31st SEA Games in November-December later this year in Hà Nội. VNS