Vietnamese marksmen set sights on Tokyo Olympics hinh anh 1Olympic champion Hoang Xuan Vinh (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) -
The upcoming ISSF World Cup in India is the last chance for Vietnamese shooters to earn spots in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic champion Hoang Xuan Vinh and his teammate Tran Quoc Cuong are training hard in the Republic of Korea for the event.

Both Vinh and Cuong will shoot in the men’s 10m air pistol category.

Vinh, 46, made history by taking his country's first gold medal in the men’s 10m air pistol event and a silver in the men’s 50m slow fire pistol at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Since then, Vinh has struggled to live up to his potential in international, continental and regional tournaments.

However, Vinh and Cuong are both tipped for success in the World Cup in India on March 15-25.

“This year, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) will choose athletes to Olympic based on their standings in the world rankings. This strict calculation requires shooters to gain high achievements at World Cup events,” said Nguyen Thi Nhung, head coach of the national shooting team and general secretary of the Vietnam Shooting Federation.

At present, Vinh and Cuong are ranked among the world’s top 25 in the men’s 10m air pistol. To seal a place in Tokyo, they will have to break into the top 16 or 17. This means the two Vietnamese marksmen will need to make the podium in India next month.

According to Nhung, Vinh needs to stabilise his psychology to play well.

“In terms of technique, Vinh is second to none. The problem here is psychology. Not only Vinh, but most good shooters in the world are also under great pressure. I have met many coaches and shooters in the world and I felt this clearly,” said Nhung.

“I will come to the Republic of Korea later this month to support specialist Park Chung-gun to offer technical and tactical exercises for Vinh and Cuong. We will make every effort to gain success in this Olympic qualifying round,” Nhung added.

Vietnam eyeing 20 Olympic spots

According to the National Sports Administration, Vietnam has set a target of 20 berths at the upcoming Olympic Games to begin on July 24.

Vietnam currently has four spots thanks to swimmer Nguyen Huy Hoang, gymnast Le Thanh Tung and archers Hoang Phi Vu and Do Thi Anh Nguyet.

Until June, Vietnamese athletes will compete at international tournaments to earn ranking points in hopes of qualification for the Games in women’s football, athletics, shooting, taekwondo, weightlifting and more.

However, the target of 20 places may be tough due to the outbreak of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has postponed or cancelled many events, affecting athletes’ preparations.

“The epidemic affects many fields of life including sport. It affects the preparation of teams for the world’s biggest sports event. Recently, the International Olympic Committee changed the venue for the Asia Boxing Championship in China in February to Jordan in March. So Asian champion Nguyen Thi Tam will have to train for another month. Maybe this will affect her form,” said Hoang Quoc Vinh, head of the Elite Sports Department of National Sports Administration.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese taekwondo fighters have had their Asian Taekwondo Championship preparations thrown into doubt.

“The team are training in the Republic of Korea and waiting for the new place. The Olympic qualifying round was planned to take place in China, but now it will be in Jordan or Iran in April. Anyway, we are on the defensive,” said Vu Xuan Thanh, general secretary of the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation.

“However, we still put our belief in Asian champion Truong Thi Kim Tuyen and world junior champion Ho Thi Kim Ngan in the women’s 49kg division,” said Thanh.

“To avoid confusion, we often encourage teams to keep calm and train with the highest focus. Coaches and athletes continue to complete their lesson plans every day, ready to do their Olympic task,” said Vinh./.