With many pillars of the national team decidingto retire recently, Vietnamese athletics will have to place much of itshopes on the ability to create breakthroughs from young athletes, whowill shoulder the heavy mission of winning
The athletics team – one of Vietnam’s ‘gold mines’ – is facing a strong lineup shuffle ahead of the largest regional sporting event in Singapore that will see the absence of the ‘golden generation’ who have made significant contributions to Vietnamese athletics’ success during the past six SEA Games. Truong Thanh Hang, Vu Van Huyen, Nguyen Dinh Cuong, and most recently Vu Thi Huong, have declared they will retire, while ‘bare foot’ marathoner Pham Thi Binh has moved on to training work, leaving behind vast vacancies and making it extremely difficult to defend the team’s top spot in the region.
Vietnamese athletics, however, has anticipated this situation and already prepared a successive athlete generation, according to Duong Duc Thuy, head of the athletics department under the General Department of Sports and Physical Training. Young athletes, who participated in the 27th SEA Games two years ago, have been showing superior advancements following long-term overseas training courses.
“Vietnamese athletics still has many ‘golden’ hopes having competed in the previous SEA Games competition, including Nguyen Van Lai in the men’s 5,000m and 10,000m, Do Thi Thao in the women’s 800m and 1,500m, Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc in the women’s race walking, Duong Van Thai in the men’s average distance, and Tran Hue Hoa and Nguyen Van Hung in the steeplechase event.” Thuy said. “These athletes are capable of defending their results at the 28th SEA Games; however, we place much hope on young players to realise the envisaged target of winning 11 gold medals,” he added.
Quach Thi Lan and Nguyen Thi Huyen, born in 1996, are notable among Vietnamese athletics’ top medal hopes, with their individual achievements approaching the Asian level in the women’s 400m dash and 400m hurdles event. Lan and Huyen will play key roles in the women’s 4x100m relay category as well. Do Thi Thao, 23, is also believed to be able to successfully replace Truong Thanh Hang on the women’s 800m and 1,500m run, while Bui Thu Thao and Duong Thi Viet Anh, also 23, are the other hopes in the women’s long jump and high jump events respectively.
In preparation for the 28th SEA Games, Quach Thi Lan (women’s 400m) is the only athlete of the national athletics team to be sent for US training, aiming to serve the goals of winning the SEA Games gold medal and excelling at the 2016 Olympic qualifiers. Lan’s brother, Quach Cong Lich, is also entrusted with high expectation in the men’s 400m dash. At the recent Malaysia Open athletics tournament, Lich performed outstandingly to bring home a gold medal in the same category, clocking a time of 46.99 seconds, which was better than that of the 27th SEA Games gold medalist.
The athletes have demonstrated good training parameters and all are now ready for conquering the 28th SEA Games gold medals, said Nguyen Trong Ho, coach of the national athletics team. Along with experienced faces, the new faces including Le Trong Hinh, 18, who exceeded the time for 100m and 200m SEA Games gold medals, and Nguyen Thi Oanh replacing ‘speed queen’ Vu Thi Huong in the women’s 100m and 200m dash, are also hoped to contribute significantly to the success of Vietnamese athletics at the upcoming 28th SEA Games in Singapore.