Vietnam will send 593 athletes to the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to compete in 30 sports, the national Olympics Committee announced on Sept. 23.

The delegation, led by deputy head of the Vietnam Sports Administration Lam Quang Thanh, will aim to finish in the top three with at least 70 gold medals.

Wall climbing, paragliding, patin and baseball will make their debut at the Games which will be held on November 11-22.

Experts believe Vietnam has a good opportunity to win gold medals in 20 sports including athletics, martial arts, wrestling, chess, shooting and fin swimming.

The biggest surprise of the delegation is the return of veteran Nguyen Duy Bang who will compete in the men's high jump event. Bang, who won one gold, two silvers and one bronze in four straight Games since 2001 and is holding the national record of 2.25m, shined at this month's national championship and was selected for this delegation's final roster.

Vietnam's biggest loss is the absence of judo kata queen Nguyen Hoang Ngan who is still under treatment for a leg injury in Japan.

World champion Ngan, who has dominated the regional tournament for years, will be unable to defend her two titles (individual and team events). A replacement has been selected but her coaches do not believe she is strong enough to shoulder the task.

The SEA Games in Indonesia will be organised in the capital Jakarta and in Palembang with 542 sets of medals up for grabs in 44 sports.

In the previous Games in Laos in 2009, Vietnam ranked second with 83 golds./.