The SEA Games 31 marked a great success for Vietnamese athletics with a record 22 gold medals to lead the team rankings. Athletes of coach Trần Văn Sỹ claimed eight gold medals. Sỹ’ has trained many famous athletes in international tournaments. Thanh Nga talks to him.
|Coach Trần Văn Sỹ often spends his free time taking part in running tournaments. — Photo courtesy of Sỹ|
Inner Sanctum: Vietnamese track and field athletes brought home 22 gold medals at the SEA Games 31 held in Việt Nam in May. This is the third time in a row Vietnamese track and field has dominated the region. How do you feel?
Now, I still feel joy and happiness when our efforts over the years have paid off. My athletes won golds in the 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m and 3,000m hurdles categories for men and women. The joy multiplied when Việt Nam defended our No 1 position at three consecutive SEA Games.
Inner Sanctum: The Games 31 was a challenging event for Vietnamese athletes. Can you tell me about the difficulties and pressures to prepare for this year's Games?
Since the end of the Games 30, the coaching staff, coaches and athletes had immediately started training to prepare for the next tournaments, including the Games held in Việt Nam. The common difficulty was that due to the pandemic, athletes did not train and compete much.
However, the leaders of the National Sports Administration, the Hà Nội-based National Sports Training Centre and the training board had internal competitions, which proved very effective. Moreover, athletes from regional countries were also very strong, especially Thailand, which has naturalised athletes of very high quality, but our coaches and athletes were not afraid of that. We did our best in training and competition for our beloved Việt Nam.
|Coach Trần Văn Sỹ and his most successful athlete Nguyễn Thị Oanh who has just been awarded the Labour Order, second-class, for her three gold medals. — Photo courtesy of Sỹ|
Inner Sanctum: How do you rate Vietnamese track and field athletes?
Vietnamese athletes are in good shape like other athletes in the region. The strength of Vietnamese athletes is their diligence and will to overcome difficulties, especially female athletes. If we continue to invest methodically and continuously to hire good experts and practise in a good environment, the Vietnamese athletes will approach the Asian level in many categories in terms of technique.
Inner Sanctum: You have been a track and field coach for the national team for nearly 12 years. Can you share any unforgettable memories?
Each tournament has its own unforgettable memory for me. This year's Games 31 was an unforgettable memory in my training life. The eight categories in which my athletes competed were all hard events, but they fulfilled their duties and the tactics of the coach. My athlete, Nguyễn Thị Oanh, within 32 hours, won three gold medals under challenging divisions and broke a Sea Games record. She was the first athlete in Southeast Asia to run the women's 3,000m steeplechase in under 10 minutes (9:52.46).
|Coach Trần Văn Sỹ (first left, standing) and his team. — Photo courtesy of Sỹ|
Inner Sanctum: Are you happy in your career?
I am thrilled to be in this profession and will follow it for the rest of my life. I am proud to work with my dear colleagues at the National Sports Training Centre. I was born to do athletics.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell me a little about your athletic career before switching to coaching?
I was a track and field athlete in Thanh Hóa Province from 1990. In 1994, I was promoted to the national team to practise and compete. I won a silver medal at the 1997 SEA Games in Indonesia in the men's 800m event. The same year, I won a gold in the 800m and a silver in the 1,500m at the Asia Pacific sports event, Arafura Games in Australia.
After finishing my career as an athlete, in 2003, I worked at the Thanh Hóa Provincial Department of Sports and taught at the Thanh Hóa College of Physical Education and Sports. In 2009, I trained gifted athletes in the provincial athletics team. In 2011, I was assigned to coach the national team.
|Coach Trần Văn Sỹ and his family. — Photo courtesy of Vietnam Trail Marathon|
Inner Sanctum: What role does your family play in your career?
My wife, Hà Thị Mai, also follows sports. She was a karate athlete in the Thanh Hóa team. Now she is the karate coach of the Thanh Hóa Sports Training Centre. She is a person who has encouraged and supported me a lot in life and work. Mai takes care of my family thoughtfully, so I can feel secure in my career. I am very grateful and proud of her.
On weekends, my family sometimes participates in running tournaments to cement the family's feelings.
Inner Sanctum: What are your upcoming plans?
The athletes and I have just had a week off to go home with friends and family. Currently, we are training again for national tournaments this year. We also plan to train for the regional biggest sports event in 2023 in Cambodia and the Asian Games 19.
We aim to heighten the achievements to gradually approach the Asian level for athletes who have won SEA Games gold medals. I always tell my athletes to never rest on our laurels. Breaking a record is hard, but keeping it is even more difficult. Victory is not for those who are lazy. VNS