2019 in Review: Steady development of Vietnamese sports

Monday, 2019-12-23 17:00:37
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Vietnamese taekwondo team won the gold medal in the team's performance event at the 30th SEA Games.
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NDO - The year 2019 marked steady development for Vietnam's sports with many memorable achievements, including takingsecond place at the 30th SEA Games, notably clinching two gold medals from the men’s and women’s football tournaments.

It was also the second consecutive games that Vietnam gainedhuge victories in the standard Olympic sport events. The achievements showed the sustainable and substantive development thanks to the long-term investment and orientation for Vietnamese sports over the past year.

Sustainable and substantive development

Vietnamese sports continued to witness a solid development, especially through the high achievements in Olympic sport and collective events, notably including football, at the 30th SEA Games which was wrapped up in the Philippines.

Vietnam surpassed Thailand to take second place with 98 gold medals, six clear of the third place country. Not only bringing home a massive number of medals, the Vietnamese sportdelegation showed their strength as leading the region in terms of Olympic events. The Games had 33 Olympic sports, with 231 categories, which will be featured at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Vietnam won 56 gold medals (12 more than the host country Philippines and Thailand), 42 silvers and 46 bronzes. Specifically, the athletics team won 16 gold medals and the wrestlers took home 12 gold medals; meanwhile, Vietnameseathletes secured 11 golds in swimming, seven in kurash, four in arnis and four in weightlifting. Despite not achieving the set target of eight gold medals, Vietnam's swimming star Nguyen Thi Anh Vien still managed a huge feat with six individual gold medals and the title of the most successful athlete at the 30th SEA Games.

Besides that, Nguyen Huy Hoang broke the SEA Games record and won his ticket to the Olympics in 2020, while the 16-year-old swimmer Tran Hung Nguyen brought home two gold medals and broke a SEA Games record. Vietnam also had resounding success in wrestling events so that other sport teams would bare to witness to Vietnamese supreme domination in the category as Vietnamese wrestlers acquire almost all of the gold medals. In terms of kurash, a martial art that is similar to wrestling, the Vietnamese team claimed the championships in two-thirds of the competition categories. The Vietnamese sport delegation also maintained their successes with a gold medal in the men’s doubles event of badminton, three golds in swords fighting and two in the men's gymnastics. The comprehensiveness of Vietnamese sports was also shown thanks to a gold medal in the men’s single tennis and acquiring the first medal of the men’s basketball team.

Affirming the leading position in the region, Vietnamese sports also initially integrated in the continental and world playgrounds with high-performance sports under the competition system of the Olympics. The year 2019 witnessed notable achievements, including three gold medals at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, a gold medal at the 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, Quach Thi Lan’s gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships, six golds at World Weightlifting Championships, among others. Regarding chess, in addition to the champion title of Le Quang Liem at the Asian Chess Championships, Vietnamese young chess prodigies won 21 gold medals at the 2019 Asian Youth Chess Championship.

Following the success in 2018, Vietnamese football made its mark in regional and continental competitions, with the first gold medal of the U22 men’s team at the SEA Games 30 after an unbeaten run (six wins and one draw). Vietnam national men’s football team also reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup 2019 and is currently at the top of Group G in the Asian 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification’s second round. Vietnamese women's football team also set a record by becoming the only team in the region to win the SEA Games 30 six times. The feats once again affirmed the true strength and leading position of Vietnamese football in the region, rising at the continental level. The achievements of the football teams were thanks to the great investment in training young footballers and the innovation of clubs over the past years. In addition, the National Football Championship, V.League, has organised itself in a more professional manner, so its competitiveness and professional quality have noticeably improved. The V.League 1-2019 was highly appreciated compared to the previous years since in thepast there had been a reputation to fix some result. The inadequacies in the administration of referees as well as the organisation, security work and violence have all been delat with and settled resolutely.

Efforts to reach the continental and world arenas

Along with the country’s economic development, Vietnamese sports have received great attention from the Party and State with a long-term strategic vision and focused investment into Olympic sport events in addition to the expansion of training and competition movements in the localities. This is the premise for strong development steps, leading to outstanding achievements in recent years, especially in 2019. The socialisation and encouragement of investment resources have significantly contributed to the successes. The right orientation has brought evident improvements for many sports that are still expanding further, such as football, tennis and basketball. The methodical investment has created favourable conditions for athletes in other events, including swimming, chess, shooting, fencing, gymnastics and dance sports, to train and compete successfully in the regional, continental and world arenas.

With the recent achievements, it is time for Vietnamese sports tomake strong changes, focusing on intensive investment into sports and athletes towards further goals and higher levels, not just to be content being at the top position in the Southeast Asian region. It is crucial to set out specific targets in the coming time. In fact, the achievements in football in the recent years were the results of long-term investment and attention from enterprises and authorities at all levels, from developing clubs and training centres, organising professional tournaments, seeking talents, preparing young footballers and inviting prominent experts and coaches.

In the immediate future, Vietnamese is preparing for the 2020 Olympics in Japan. Time is running out and it is of great concern that Vietnam has had only four places for the Olympics in archery and gymnastics so far. Meanwhile, in 2019, 66 athletes in 18 sports received great investment with the aimof attending the prestigious event. It can be said that the efficiency of the investment was not high. Leaders of the country’s sports recognised the limitations and set measures to overcome them. According to General Director of the Vietnam Sports Administration, Tran Duc Phan, after SEA Games 30, the administration will review the training and coaching work to find excellent coaches for the athletes who are capable of clinching seats for next year’s Olympics. In the long term, it is essential to promote the investment and remuneration of athletesand coaches, create favourable environments for training and competition towards professionalism. This requires the joint efforts of the whole society to resolve the shortcomings between the potential and the reality in the coming time.

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