Olympic gymnast Ha Thanh named Vietnam's athlete of the year

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Phan Thi Ha Thanh, Vietnam's top female gymnast, has been named the country's "athlete of the year" for the second consecutive year.

It was announced Monday by The Thao Vietnam (Vietnam Sports) newspaper the award's organizers, under directions from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the General Department of Physical Training and Sports, the Vietnam Olympics Committee and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee.

The honor is based on the votes of more than 200 experienced sports journalists.

The results came as no surprise to fans or pundits, as Ha Thanh won the gold medal in the women's vault event at the 2012 Toyota International Cup in Japan last December, successfully retaining the title she earned in 2011.

Thanh, 21, also grabbed gold medals for the vault events of the Senior Asian Artistic Championships held in Fujian, China, in early November, and at the Challenge Cup Grand Prix in the Czech Republic later that month.

In 2011, Thanh became the first Vietnamese gymnast to win a medal at an international competition after taking the bronze for the vault at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo last October and earning a berth to the 2012 London Olympics.

Second in the list of "athletes of the year" for 2012 was 16-year-old female swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who won five gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games, as well as a silver medal in the women's 200m backstroke and a bronze in the women's 400m medley at the 2012 Asian Swimming Championships in Dubai last November.

Third on the list was marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh, who took gold in the 5th Asian Air Gun Championship in China in December, and who earlier, just narrowly fell short of winning bronze at the London Olympics.

Fifth-grader Nguyen Anh Khoi, who snatched the gold medal in the Under-10 event of the 2012 World Youth Chess Championships in Slovenia last November, finished fourth in the voting.

Thanh's coach, Nguyen Thanh Thuy, was named "best coach of the year," followed by shooter Xuan Vinh's coach Nguyen Thi Nhung. Chess player Anh Khoi's coach, Nguyen Thanh Son, came in third.

Disabled female weightlifter Nguyen Thi Hong was chosen as the top "disabled athlete of the year." She finished fourth in the under-40kg event at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Hong lifted a total 88kg and while Newson Zoe of the UK also lifted 88kg, the bronze medal went to the host contestant because her body weight was 300g lighter than that of the Vietnamese lifter.

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