HAI DUONG — The sports training centre in the northern city of Hai Duong has made intensive investments into eight different sports to turn itself into a national powerhouse.
Success story: Weightlifter Nguyen Thi Thiet qualified for the Olympics in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh
The centre trains 220 athletes in 18 sports, of which 25 are key members of the national teams of shooting, table tennis, athletics, volleyball, pencak silat, fencing and canoeing.
Weightlifter Nguyen Thi Thiet, 26, qualified for the Olympics in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing, after successes at the Asian Championships. Meanwhile, table tennis player Vu Manh Cuong was the first Vietnamese to triumph at the SEA Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1995.
They both grew up on stellar programmes raised by the centre in the past years.
"We plan to buy facilities and construct a new VND13 billion (US$680,000) gymnasium in the 2010-14 period. It will be a great effort by the centre during the economic downturn," said the director of the centre, Vu Dinh Thinh.
"The centre also raised the monetary rate for daily nutrition for athletes from VND50,000 to VND90,000 earlier this year, though the coaching staff believes this is still not enough for the 80 top athletes," Thinh said.
He added that the centre needed a new five-year strategy to keep its prosperity going strong.
Fencer Le Thi Bich was the most successful young fencer at the centre, as she won her first gold at the 24th SEA Games in Thailand at the age of 18.
"My teammates and I were experienced athletes at the centre and the national team when we began the sport 10 years ago. We have our eyes on winning gold at the Asian Games or at the Asian Championships rather than the SEA Games, but it's a long way for us to reach the world level," said Bich.
Bich, 21, said that she had grown up with the elite training programme of the centre and became an experienced fencer for the national team.
"I started training in the sport in 2003 and was recruited by the national team for the Philippines SEA Games in 2005. But Thailand's SEA Games was my first success."
At the national weight lifting championships, Hai Duong debutante Pham Van Cuong, 19, bagged a gold medal in the men's 100kg class. — VNS