Behind the glory

Friday, 2015-02-20 00:36:37
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The most valuable Vietnamese athlete of 2014 swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien
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NDO – Young swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien has been named the most valuable Vietnamese athlete of 2014 for her hard-to-beat achievements. However, to be successful, the 18-year-old athlete has had to work hard, paying with blood, sweat and tears.

Innermost feelings of a devoted coach

Coach Dang Anh Tuan, a former swimmer from the An Giang team and current coach of Anh Vien, is popular in the Vietnamese swimming community.

Some used to think that Vien’s excellent performance was the result of US coaches, but for those close to the national swimming team, Tuan is the one who has contributed the most to the outstanding performance of the best Vietnam’s swimmer in recent years. Tuan is devoted to Vien, giving as much love to her as to his own child. Tuan accompanied Vien day after day while on training in the US, staying in Vietnam for less than 30 days each year. Notably, over the last four years, the two have had to celebrate the Lunar New Year far away from home. Though Tuan’s family is residing in the US, he only stayed with his family a few times, as he had to follow Vien’s training.

Asking if Tuan was sad as many did not appreciate his contribution to Vien’s success, even the title of the most outstanding trainer of the year was not given to him, Tuan said he is only concerned about how to make Vien perform her best for Vietnam, not about others thinking about him and what he received.

Tears of student

After the swimming event at the 2014 National Sports Festival wrapped up, several male swimmers expressed their admiration to Vien, as her training load was hard to follow even for male athletes.

Each day, Vien has to swim a distance of 20-25km with different ranges and speeds. In addition, the athlete also spends half a day for physical fitness.

Vien said many times she was exhausted and did not finish her meals, even vomiting all she had eaten before. “Sometimes I burst into tears, asking myself why I must endure such hardness. But when I witness Tuan’s devotion and my family and others’ expectation of me, I promise to myself to overcome all”, Vien added.

She also revealed that she was always seeking to overcome herself as she was training in Arizona in the US with many leading swimmers from around the world, such as Italian female swimmer Federica Pellegrini, the world champion of the women's 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle; and Japanese Kosuke Hagino, who won four gold medals at the last Asian Games 2014. Training with world-level champions helps Vien a lot to improve her performance.

Olympic dreams

At the 17th Asian Games in the Republic of Korea in 2014, Vien set a historic milestone as the first Vietnamese swimmer to win a medal at an Asian Games. She snatched the women’s 400m individual medley bronze and another bronze in the 200m backstroke.

After two years of training (from 2012) in the US, Vien performed brilliantly at international and regional events. She is rated among the top swimmers in Southeast Asia , having snatched nine gold medals and smashed seven records at the 38th Southeast Asian Age-group Swimming Championship in Singapore in last June. Now coach Anh Tuan, and student athlete Anh Vien, are heading to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Talking about new goals, Tuan said that Vien targets competing in three events in 2015: the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore in June, the 16th FINA World Championships in Russia, and the Asian Swimming Championships in November. “Our highest target is a medal at the Olympic Games next year”, Tuan said, adding that “with aspirations and effort, we can turn dreams into reality”.

And to continue fulfilling the next targets, the two must again celebrate the Lunar New Year far away from home.

Anh Vien had a successful 2014 at both domestic and international competitions:

- Two bronze medals in the women’s 200m backstroke and women’s 400m individual medley

- The women’s 200m medley gold medal at the second Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, setting a new record at the event of 2:12.46 (the previous record was 2:123.68)

- Claiming nine gold medals and smashing seven records at the 38th Southeast Asian Age-group Swimming Championship

- Bagging 11 gold medals and breaking 11 records at the Southeast Asian Junior Swimming Championships

- Winning 18 gold medals, including 17 women’s individual titles at the 2014 National Sports Festival