Vietnam's U23 team celebrate the goal by Nguyen Quang Hai at the final match of the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship (Photo: AFC)
 

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam’s sport sector has had an outstanding 2018 and the country is starting to pay more attention to developing talented athletes.


The fairytale second-place finish of Vietnam’s football team in January at the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship enraptured many people, not just football fans. After the poor performance of the country’s football teams in recent years, some fans had lost faith in the team, but the success of the youngsters has greatly increased public attention on the training of athletes.

In August, the Vietnamese sport sector recorded various achievements at the 18th Asian Games (ASIAD) in Indonesia. With four gold medals, two in Olympics sports (athletics and rowing), 2018 was Vietnam’s most successful year at the continental event. 

Gold medallist Bui Thi Thu Thao (centre) at the 2018 ASIAD (Photo: VNA)

 

Increasing attention for development of young athletes

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency, Vice head of the Vietnam Sports Administration (VSA) Tran Duc Phan said in October, 13 Vietnamese athletes competed in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina.

As athletes rarely compete in this event twice, it is their dream to enter the international multi-sport event for youths while they are eligible, the VSA official said. 

More importantly, when a Vietnamese athlete qualifies for a major event, such as the YOG, it will motivate other athletes to succeed, he noted.

Weightlifter Ngo Son Dinh and swimmer Nguyen Huy Hoang brought home a gold medal each at this year’s event.

 

Vice head of the Vietnam Sports Administration (VSA) Tran Duc Phan hugs young weightlifter Ngo Son Dinh following Dinh's gold medal at men’s 56kg event on the first day of competition of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (Photo: VNA)


Dinh lifted 114kg in snatch and 148kg in clean and jerk to triumph with a total lift of 262kg at the men’s 56kg event on the first day of competition at the Games.

The Tien Giang-born lifter won one gold and two bronze medals in the men’s 56kg at the Asian Youth Weightlifting Championship in 2017. He also won three gold medals at this year’s tournament and two bronzes at the World Youth Weightlifting Championship.

Ngo Son Dinh (centre) at the podium (Photo: AFP/VNA)


Meanwhile, the 18-year-old swimmer triumphed in the men’s 800m freestyle in 7:50:20 and broke the national record of 7:54:32 which earned him a bronze medal at the 2018 ASIAD in Indonesia. Hoang’s medal was the first gold medal in swimming for Vietnam at the event.

18-year-old swimmer Nguyen Huy Hoang (centre) triumphs in the men’s 800m freestyle at the 2018 YOG (Photo: VNA)

 

According to Phan, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently approved a decision to raise the food stipend for each young athlete to 290,000 VND (about 12.5 USD) per day, equivalent to that of a professional athlete.

In addition, he stressed salary and incentives for athletes and coaches will be improved. The moves reflect the Government’s efforts to create optimal conditions for aspiring talents.

With the VSA’s motto “All the best for athletes and coaches”, Phan said training, competition performance and medical treatment for young athletes have improved over the years.

An official health committee was established in 2014, which proved to be effective aid for athletes in regional and international competitions. 

In addition to medical treatment from experts in various sports, the health committee also serves as mental support for athletes, so they can focus on improving their performance, Phan said. 

 

Vice head of the VSA Tran Duc Phan (Photo: VNA)


During the 2018 ASIAD in Indonesia, sport doctors for the first time accompanied Vietnamese athletes to the event and joined their training sessions.  

For upcoming major sporting events, namely the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2019 and 2021, Olympics in 2020 and ASIAD in 2022, the VSA is working to choose key sports for development, and events of that each sport which will be feasible for Vietnamese athletes to earn high achievements.

Prospects for Vietnam’s athletics


Track and field is one of the oldest athletic events. In ancient times, the events were held in conjunction with festivals. In Vietnam, it is referred to as the queen sport, thus athletics is an area where the country wants to improve. 

Duong Duc Thuy, head of the athletics section of the VSA said Vietnam’s athletics witnessed rapid changes in 2007-2008, during which the sector worked to apply international standards in evaluation, paving the way for the country’s athletes to qualify for global competition and not fall behind compared to their rivals across the world. 

Now, with recent outstanding achievements, especially Bui Thi Thu Thao’s gold medal in long jump in 2018 ASIAD, the change has proved effective, he affirmed.  

Long jumper Bui Thi Thu Thao with her gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia (Photo: VNA)

 

Vietnam’s track and field sector is striving to become a force that changes the face of athletics in Southeast Asia, in the context that athletics comprises a fixed number of events, and the rivalry between participating nations has grown fiercer. Entering the region’s top two is one of the most important tasks for the country’s young athletes in the next 10 years.

Vietnam’s athletes are preparing for the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines next year. They are also striving to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Japan. 

Hope in rising track-and-field talents 

At the 2017 Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Thailand, Vietnam pocketed one gold and five silver medals. Gold medallist Cao Vo Ngoc Long broke the national record in high jump with a jump of 2m10.

 

Cao Vo Ngoc Long poses with the national flag after winning the men’s high jump event at the second Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Thailand in 2017 (Photo: nld.com.vn)

 

In the women’s 400m hurdles, 17 year-old girl Le Thi Hong Han broke the Asian youth record of 61:27 with a result of 60:66, taking a silver medal.

Recently, two Vietnamese athletes Le Tien Long and Doan Thu Hang qualified for the 2018 YOG in Buenos Aires. Their success lit hope in the future of Vietnam’s athletics, following outstanding athletes in the past like Truong Thanh Hang, Vu Thi Huong and high jumpers Bui Thi Nhung and Nguyen Duy Bang, among others. 

“Those excellent results show that the young athletes are coming close to their predecessors’ achievements and possibly able to go beyond. The country can think of having more Vietnamese runners in Olympics events in the coming time,” Thuy said.

Training of young athletes and their responsibilities

The training of athletes is the most important task for them to improve their personal results and seize spots at international events. Previously, Vietnamese athletes were mainly sent to train in Poland and Hungary, and then following the country’s Doi Moi (reform) process, they have trained in China, Western European countries and the United States. 

 

 Head of the athletics section of the VSA Duong Duc Thuy in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency (Photo: VNA)


Vietnam has given priority for its athletes to join training courses in countries with suitable facilities, equipment, favourable weather and cuisine. Therefore, neighbouring countries, particularly China, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, are the best choices for Vietnam’s athletes, the official said.

Additionally, Japan has provided financial aid and equipment for sport officials and experts in developing countries. As a long-time partner of Vietnam, experts from Japan have provided professional training and helped Vietnamese athletes attend competitions in Japan.

The athletics section has worked to seek funding and sponsorship for the development of young athletes and enhanced cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, international financial establishments and overseas Vietnamese.

Thuy added that it is also important for Vietnamese athletes and the sport sector to be aware of their responsibilities in return for the support. 

Once they are determined to become professionals, young athletes should get accustomed to the procedures of respective events and living conditions in different countries as they need to participate in various training courses and competitions abroad.

They are also encouraged to compete in other domestic and international athletics events, which attract many foreign athletes. The athletics section is keen on boosting a system of competitions in the country, with existing events like marathons in Ha Giang, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc provinces and Da Nang city, and more, he said, stressing the significance of public sport campaign in raising budding talents. 

Participants of the 21km and 42km distances in the 2018 Da Nang International Marathon (Photo: VNA)
 

During international events, in addition to polishing their skills, Vietnamese athletes can learn from their foreign counterparts in various aspects, from their etiquette to thorough preparations ahead of important events, particularly weather factors which may affect their performance, nutrition and equipment.


To become full-fledged professional athletes, young talents have to practice regularly to maintain stamina, set proper targets to improve and work to stay on top form and deliver the best results. 

They are also asked to support the growth of the country’s future athletes once they become more mature and successful, Thuy noted. -VNA

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