SEA Games 31: Vietnam’s athletics top Southeast Asia: Singaporean newspaper hinh anh 1Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Huyen (836) wins the women's 400m (Photo: VNA)
Singapore (VNA) Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper on May 15 ran an article spotlighting the progress and successes of Vietnam’s athletics at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

The article by Sazali Abdul Aziz reported that after two days of track and field competitions at the SEA Games 31 in Hanoi, Vietnam topped the medal table.

For nearly two decades following Thailand, Vietnam finally usurped their rivals to emerge as the top nation in athletics in the 2017 Games in Malaysia.

They followed it up with another table-topping show two years later in the Philippines, and are looking to make it three in a row.

Vietnam are aiming for at least 15 gold medals out of 47 on offer and already won nine as of late May 15, nearly double that of the Thais, who are the next-best nation with five.

The author cited Nguyen Manh Hung, general secretary of the Vietnam Athletics Federation, as saying that their recent rise is a result of a heavy focus and investment which the nation's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism placed on Olympic sports in 2015.

Some 100 billion VND (4.3 million USD) was pumped into the project, which aimed to deliver medals at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, as well as the 2018 Asian Games.

At Rio 2016, shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh delivered Vietnam's first gold medal and two years later, Quach Thi Lan (400m hurdles) and Bui Thi Thu Thao (long jump) delivered the nation's first triumphs in track and field at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

But Thailand are not sitting still and with the SEA Games returning to Bangkok in 2025, they are out to reclaim their supremacy and pride. In Hanoi, they have targeted at least 12 gold medals, the article added./.