Although he has amassed a collection of prestigious titles from global and Asian competitions, top Vietnamese badminton player and world No.7 Nguyen Tien Minh has yet to win the men’s singles gold medal at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Report by Nhan Dan newspaper.

The achievement stands as one of Tien Minh’s greatest desires for his badminton career. He has another opportunity to realise his dream at the 27th SEA Games, which open next month in Myanmar, where he will likely be the top seeded player in the men’s singles category.

A thorough warm-up

Tien Minh has registered to participate in a number of international competitions as part of his preparations for the upcoming SEA Games. He skipped the recent National Badminton Top Players Championships to focus his strength and energy on the 2013 Li Ning China Open, taking place in Shanghai from November 12-17.

Tien Minh is seeded sixth in the men’s singles, behind Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, China’s Chen Long and Du Pengyu, Japan’s Kenichi Tago and Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto. There promise to be numerous obstacles to Tien Minh’s ambition of winning the tournament, foremost among them fourth seed Kenichi Tago, who has been placed in the same branch of the tournament bracket.

Two days after the China Open concludes, Tien Minh will begin his campaign at the six-day 2013 Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open. After losing the sixth-place ranking to Denmark’s Jan O. Jorgensen in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) standings, world No.7 Tien Minh has been seeded seventh at the Hong Kong Open.

Minh has drawn to play world No.26 Ajay Jayaram of India in his first-round match. He lost to Jayaram in the Indian Badminton League in August before avenging himself with a convincing 2-0 victory in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Japan Open Super Series the following month.

Tien Minh will then attempt to defend his championship title at the Yonex Sunrise Vietnam Open, which takes place in Ho Chi Minh City from December 2-8, his last international competition before the SEA Games.

Top seed at SEA Games?

The ASEAN nations have not yet officially announced the rosters of their badminton squads for the 27th SEA Games. Players must choose between two options – the BWF Superseries Finals in Malaysia and the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar – both of which take place concurrently, from December 11-15.

So far, world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia has confirmed his participation in the Superseries Finals, while other top regional players – including Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto (world No.5), as well as Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana (world No.8) and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (world No.9) – have yet to make up their minds. Should these players also choose the Superseries event, Tien Minh is bound to be the top seed in the men’s singles at next month’s SEA Games, which would help him avoid strong opponents in the early rounds and consolidate his chances of progressing deep into the tournament.

Tien Minh experienced bitter defeat at the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia two years ago, missing out on the SEA Games medals after a disappointing 0-2 loss to a much-lower rated player, Derek Wong Zi Liang of Singapore, in the men’s singles quarterfinals.

The upcoming tournament will be an excellent opportunity for Tien Minh to clinch the first SEA Games men’s singles crown of his professional badminton career – an achievement for which he is thirstier than ever.-VNA