The seventh ASEAN Para Games officially opened on January 15 at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar.

Nearly 2,000 athletes and officials from 11 Southeast Asian countries have arrived to participate in the week-long biennial games.

They will compete in 12 sports. A total of 399 gold medals will be awarded at the Games.

Most of the events will be held in Nay Pyi Taw, and the remaining in Yangon and Mandalay.

The ASEAN Para Games, held approximately every two years, first took place in 1988 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Other hosts so far are Hanoi (Vietnam), Manila (the Philippines), Nakhon Ratchasima (Thailand), and Solo (Indonesia).

In the last Games, Thailand finished top overall with a total of 295 medals, including 126 gold. Indonesia and Malaysia were second and third, respectively. Vietnam was in fourth place.

For the 2014 ASEAN Para Games, the Vietnamese contingent of about 120 athletes are targeting a top-three finish.

They will take part in six events, with strong title hopes athletics, swimming and powerlifting.

"In recent years, Vietnam has always been among the top three countries at regional sporting events.

 Here, we have belief in our young competitors, even in those who are taking part in their first international event like swimmers Nguyen Thi Dieu Ha and Truong Quang Gon, and in those who have recorded impressive results at the recent ASEAN championships," said Vu The Phiet, chief-de-mission of the Vietnamese contingent.

"Senior athletes like Nguyen Thi Hai, Cao Ngoc Hung and Trinh Cong Luan in athletics, and Nguyen Thi Hong, Chu Hoang Tuyet Loan, Le Van Cong and Nguyen Hong Phuc in powerlifting are expected to win gold medals. Many of them are leading athletes in Asia," said Phiet, who is also General Secretary of the Vietnam Paralympics Committee.

"We have been training here for several days with the best conditions given by the hosts. I have set a target of not only winning but also breaking at least three records at this Games in the women's butterfly events," said Du Thi Lan who won two golds in the previous edition.

Results obtained by athletes at the Games will be one of the deciding factors for competing at the Asian Games in the Republic of Korea later this year.-VNA