Athletes sent off for SEA Games glory hinh anh 1Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien (right) gave the national flag to Tran Duc Phan, head of the Vietnam SEA Games delegation, at the sending-off ceremony on August 8 in Hanoi. ​(Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien bade farewell to the Vietnam contingent at a simple ceremony in Hanoi on August 8, as they headed for the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Thien, who is the President of the Vietnam Olympics Committee, said the SEA Games is one of the most important sporting events of the year for Vietnam. It is considered a chance to promote solidarity, friendship and understanding between countries in the region. It is also an opportunity for athletes to show off their talent and achievements.

On behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Thien appreciated the determination and great efforts of athletes, coaches and experts who overcame difficulties in training, and are now ready for the Games.

He believed that the contingent would get the highest results and finish among the top teams at the Games, satisfying the admiration and trust of fans.

Speaking at the ceremony, Tran Duc Phan, head of the Vietnam SEA Games delegation, said after a long time of practice and preparation, his athletes are confident to return from the SEA Games with many gold medals.

“Hundreds of athletes have been summoned to different sports centres. They have been working hard and taking part in many intensive training courses locally and internationally with a view to improve their skills. They receive good health care, nutrition and medicine which are very important to ensure their best physique. And now a 681-member delegation, which includes 475 athletes, is ready for the Games,” said Phan.

The team will compete in 32 out of 38 sports events at the biennial Games in Malaysia from August 19 to 30.

“We will try our best to grab 49 to 59 gold medals to rank in the top three. The Games is a chance for Vietnam to compare our sport development with other countries. It is also a step towards the country’s preparation for bigger Games such as the Asian Games in 2018 and the Olympics in 2020,” said Phan.

Fencer Nguyen Thanh An, on behalf of the athletes, promised to compete with competitive spirit under the sportsmanship for the nation’s glory.

An is the national champion in men’s sabre and he will defend his title at the Kuala Lumpur competition.

Earlier on August 7, Minister Thien met the coaches and athletes of all 24 teams preparing for the Malaysian Games.

Athletes worked hard to prepare for the Games, but they must also work on their health and confidence, which are key points during competitions, Thien advised while speaking at the National Sport Training Centre in Hanoi.

Thien will join the athletes at the SEA Games’ opening ceremony on August 19 and cheer them in the events in later days.

The first teams will leave for Malaysia on August 11, while the main delegation will depart on August 16. The contingent will take part in the flag-raising ceremony a day later.

Vietnam have set a target of being among the top three, with about 60 gold medals. In the previous Games in Singapore, Vietnam stood third, winning 73 titles.-VNA