The Vietnamese sports delegation marches at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday. AFP/VNA Photo
HÀ NỘI — Leading the Vietnamese contingent, athletes Quách Thị Lan and Nguyễn Huy Hoàng, proudly carried the national flag aloft during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics last night.
For the first time in the history of the Games, each nation that took part was led by both a female and male athlete, as part of the International Olympic Committee's efforts to push gender equality.
Swimmer Hoàng and runner Lan were bestowed the honour by the Việt Nam Olympic Committee.
Amid the pomp and circumstances of the opening ceremony, the pair was followed by the Vietnamese team.
The 43-strong contingent is made up of 18 athletes who will compete in 11 sports.
Weightlifting, shooting and taekwondo are the events considered Việt Nam’s best possible chance of taking home a medal.
For many of the athletes, this is their first taste of the Olympics but not so for Nguyễn Tiến Minh.
This will be the veteran badminton player’s fourth Games and at 38, he is the oldest player in the men’s singles category.
But he is still not the oldest athlete in the Vietnamese team. That honour falls on the shoulders of marksman Hoàng Xuân Vinh who turned 47 in October.
He made history in Brazil in 2016 when he secured Việt Nam’s only ever gold medal. And if that wasn’t enough he also picked up a silver.
But Vinh’s form has not been the best in the run up to the games, and after he failed to qualify, he was given a special invitation to defend his gold in the 10m air pistol event.
Earlier on Friday, Việt Nam’s quest for Olympic glory began before the opening ceremony with archers Đỗ Thị Ánh Nguyệt and Nguyễn Hoàng Phi Vũ in action.
Nguyệt finished 49th among a total of 64 competitors with 628 points in the qualifying round of the Women’s Recurve event.
Nguyệt, however, will progress to the next round to compete against the host nation’s Hayakawa Ren.
This year marks the first time that the 20-year-old archer has competed in the Olympics.
On the men’s side, Nguyễn Hoàng Phi Vũ gained 647 points and ranked 53rd out of 64 athletes. Kim Je Deok of South Korea leads this category with 688 points, followed by Ellison Brady of the US with 682 points and Oh Jinhyek with 681 points.
With this result, Vũ will face Tang Chih Chung of Chinese Taipei who ranked 12th in the qualifying round with 668 points. — VNS