|Mask man Trần Quốc Cường (centre) practises in Hà Nội before leaving for World Cup shooting tournament in India this March. Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Shooting Federation
HÀ NỘI — Marksman Trần Quốc Cường is aiming for an Olympic berth in shooting at the World Cup tournament in India.
The International Shooting Sport Federation tournament is from March 18-29 in New Delhi.
Cường will be accompanied by his teammates Nguyễn Đình Thành and Phan Xuân Chuyên, under South Korean coach Park Chung-gun.
Cường will compete in the men’s 10m air pistol while Thành and Chuyên will take part in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol
According to head coach Nguyễn Thị Nhung, Cường has the most potential as he is world No 17 and just needs to improve his ranking by one spot to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
“Cường has shown stable performance in his training. And we have prepared really carefully for this competition,” said Nhung.
“However, it is the last chance for worldwide shooters to grab their slots, and then it would be very competitive and tough for participants.”
Cường, 47, will directly compete against Samuil Donkov of Bulgaria who is world No 16 and Park Dae-hun of South Korea who sits at No 18.
Nhung who is chairwoman of Sen Việt Nam Investment Join stock Company has pledged a bonus of VNĐ100 million (US$4,315) for shooters who secure Olympic berths.
“My athletes are excited with the bonus and promised to do their best,” said Nhung.
“The nervousness seems to belong to those who can’t travel with them to India like me, their colleagues and supporters.
“Cường, Thành and Chuyên are heading to New Delhi with determination and passion. They keep in mind the country’s hope for the Olympics and will compete to win,” said Nhung.
The team flew to India on Tuesday without Vietnamese Olympic champion Hoàng Xuân Vinh, meaning he won't get the chance to defend his crown at this summer event.
Vinh is currently far away from the potential group and his chances of winning an Olympic berth would be slim.
In Rio de Janeiro five years ago, Vinh made history with one gold (10m air pistol) and one silver (50m air pistol).
But after the glory, the nation's first Olympic champion failed to perform at his peak.
He did not grab any title from international competition apart from silver in the 10m air pistol in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines where he was considered the favourite.
Vinh, who has dropped to No 25 in the world in 10m air pistol, admitted his poor performance although he decided to skip the coming SEA Games to focus on the Olympics.
The 50m air pistol is not included in the competition list in Tokyo.
Vietnamese athletes will complete their competition on March 22 but have to wait 10 days for a flight back home.
The shooters will have to be quarantined for two weeks upon their return to Việt Nam before returning to normal activity. —VNS