Vietnamese athletics determined to defend reign in Southeast Asia

Monday, 2019-09-09 16:52:45
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Vietnamese sprinter Le Tu Chinh (no. 617) is the defending SEA Games champion in the women’s 100m and 200m dash events.
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NDO – With the Philippines, the host country of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, deciding to include all the 48 track and field disciplines into the Games’ competition programme, Vietnam is looking forward to repeating the overall triumph in the athletics event attained in the games last time round.

However, Vietnamese athletes currently face many difficulties in their bid to defend their regional track and field reign.

At the moment, the direct competitors of Vietnamese track and field are the Thai athletes who are eager to return to the SEA Games to reclaim their lost “crown” from Vietnam. The 2017 results were not enough for Vietnam to underestimate their opponents, especially as Thailand still remains a track and field powerhouse in the region, with drastic investment over recent times. Meanwhile, Indonesia also aspires to rise above in the sport, and is clearly investing in a plan to conquer the top spot at the upcoming 30th SEA Games.

One of the biggest concerns and challenges for Vietnamese athletics is the strong emergence of the athletes from the Philippines, who have recently achieved great strides on the international stage. The host country of the 2019 SEA Games currently possesses a powerful force of track and field athletes, with many naturalised competitors from athletic powerhouses around the world, notably Kristina Knott and Zion Corrales Nelson, who grew up from school sports in the United States. These are the two direct opponents of Vietnam’s SEA Games champion Le Tu Chinh in the women’s 100m and 200m dash. Together with Supawan Thipat of Thailand, the aforementioned Philippine athletes are ranked above Chinh in the latest rankings of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Kristina Knott (C), a naturalised athlete of the Philippines, is emerging as a big threat to Le Tu Chinh’s title defence ambition at the 30th SEA Games later this year.

Given that fact, Vietnamese athletes should not be self-satisfied with the achievements attained in the previous SEA Games editions and need to maintain their optimal focus in training aiming to be best-prepared for the upcoming campaign. A team of talented Vietnamese athletes who once surprised the whole region two years ago, such as Nguyen Thi Huyen (women’s 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m), Le Tu Chinh (women’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m), Tran Yen Hoa (women’s 100m hurdles), Bui Thi Thu Thao (women’s long jump), Vu Thi Men (women’s triple jump), Nguyen Thi Oanh (women’s 1,500m and 5,000m), Nguyen Van Lai (men’s 5,000m and 10,000m) and Duong Van Thai (men’s 800m and 1,500m), still maintain stable form at the moment and are expected to sweep gold medals for Vietnam at the 30th SEA Games.

Nonetheless, based on the assessment of the capabilities of Vietnamese athletes and competitors in the region, leaders of the track and field department have only set a goal of clinching 15 gold medals this year, which is two fewer than the team’s 2017 haul but might be enough to help Vietnam defend their reign in the sport. With just two months left before the 30th SEA Games, it is necessary to have specific investments as well as solutions on profession, nutrition, health and trainers in order to ensure fitness and maintain and improve performances of the athletes.

Despite being highly determined to defend their top spot, Vietnamese track and field will look to the 30th SEA Games as a launchpad towards the larger playgrounds, with the immediate goal of meeting the 2020 Olympic standards right at the largest regional sporting event of the year.