SEA Games 31: Sprinter and hurdler Quach Thi Lan to be cauldron lighter at SEA Games opening hinh anh 1Sprinter and hurdler Quach Thi Lan (centre) will be the cauldron lighter at the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) in Hanoi later this month. (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Sprinter and hurdler Quach Thi Lan has been selected to light the cauldron of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) at the opening ceremony in Hanoi on May 12, according to the organiser.

The organiser initially selected marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh for the role. However, the Olympic medalist will not compete at the upcoming games as an athlete so the honour was transferred to Lan who championed the women’s 400m hurdles at the 2018 Asian Games (ASIAD).

Vinh is the most successful sportsperson in Vietnam's history. He won one gold and one silver at the 2016 Rio Games, Vietnam's best result at the world's largest sport festival.

Vinh now has a new role to fulfill at SEA Games 31 - the national head coach of the shooting team. Vinh will join nine Vietnamese sports heroes to take the honour of anchoring the torch relay before he hands it over to Lan, a gesture symbolising the succession of Vietnam’s sports in pursuit of new heights at the international arena.

The nine athletes include Olympic 2000 taekwondo gold medalist Tran Hieu Ngan, Olympic 2008 weightlifting silver medalist Hoang Anh Tuan, Olympic 2012 weightlifting bronze medalist Tran Le Quoc Toan, multi-time wushu world champion Nguyen Thuy Hien, and multi-time SEA Games swimming winner Nguyen Thi Anh Vien.

Vietnamese swimmer Nguyen Huy Hoang will represent all athletes to take the Games' oath while volleyball referee Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa will make a promise to officiate matches based on fairness.

Reigning fencing champion Vu Thanh An will fly the flag for Vietnam. It will be An's fifth time taking the honourable duty for the nation. He previously took the responsibility at the Rio Olympics in 2016, SEA Games 2017 and 2019 and the Asian Games in 2018.

An is considered a 'lucky' flag bearer as after his service, Vietnam won their first ever Olympic and Asian Games golds.

At this year's Games, An is one of the country’'s gold hopefuls in men's sabre fencing event. The 29-year-old won the title at the last three Games.

The opening ceremony will feature a cultural and artistic performance featuring 3,000 people over two hours under director Tran Ly Ly, head of the Performing Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The SEA Games' flag raising ceremony will be held on May 11, one day before the opening ceremony.

It is an official event to welcome all teams and encourage athletes ahead of their tournament. It is also expected to show Vietnam's hospitality and friendship to international friends.

Almost 400 representatives of all teams, guests and media will take part in the ceremony.

The 31st SEA Games will be held from May 12-23 in 12 cities and provinces. Football will be the first sport organised from May 6.

The regional biennial event will see the participation of almost 10,000 athletes, coaches and officials of 40 sports./.