Vietnam finishes 3rd at SEA Games, now aims for 2016 Olympics

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 Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, 19, has won 8 gold medals and broke 8 records at the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. Photo: Kha Hoa
 
Ranked third at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games with 73 gold medals, Vietnam has exceeded the target of 60 golds, with many young athletes now aiming to compete at the 2016 Olympics.
Tran Duc Phan, who led the Vietnamese delegate to the biennial multi-sport Games for the 11-nation block in Singapore from June 5-16, said the country’s participation has been successful.
“The success was a result of proper investments in athletes who will also compete at the 2016 Olympics and the 2018 Asian Games,” Phan, who is also deputy director of the General Department of Sports, was quoted by the local newspaper Bong Da as saying.
Vietnam sent 392 athletes to compete in 28 of the total of 36 sports at the Games. It finished with 73 gold, 53 silver and 60 bronze medals.
Thailand led the region with 95 golds, followed by host Singapore with 84 golds.
Shining stars
According to Phan, Vietnamese athletes have performed well in shooting, gymnastics, swimming, fencing and canoeing.
“But what impressed me was athletics, in which Vietnamese athletes won a record of 11 gold and 17 silver medals,” he said.
Nguyen Van Lai won a gold medal in men’s 5,000m running competition and broke a SEA Games record set 22 years ago.
The 28-year-old athlete from Thanh Hoa Province finished with 14m4s14, which was 4 seconds faster than the record by Malaysia’s Ramachandran at the 1993 SEA Games.
But it was Nguyen Thi Huyen, a 19-year-old runner from Nam Dinh Province, who made a surprise when bagging three gold medals in women’s 400m, 400m hurdle and 4x400m relay.
Overshadowed by Quach Thi Lan who won a silver medal at the 17th Asian Games in women’s 400m, Huyen was not expected to achieve such impressive results.
She was also eliminated in a team sent for training in the US early this year. 
Nguyen Thi Huyen won three gold medals at the Games. Photo: Kha Hoa 
In swimming, Phan said he was not surprised by the eight gold medals won by Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who he said did not face very strong opponents in her preferred categories.
Hailing from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, the 19-year-old swimmer, dubbed by regional media as “the Iron Girl,” also broke eight records at the event.
Phan said he was optimistic with the results and looking ahead towards the 2016 Olympics.
Statistics show that 86 percent of the Vietnamese gold medalists are in sports that will be competed at the Olympics.
Regrets
But Phan said some experience athletes did not live up to expectations.
In cycling, Trinh Duc Tam won a bronze medal in men’s individual time trial. 
Local media have criticized his team for poor preparations after his bicycle was disqualified by the organizers, forcing him to change to a new bike one day before the race. 
Some Vietnamese shooters also failed to score gold. 
“Vietnam could have had two more gold medals in shooting, instead of only four,” Phan said, noting that Hoang Xuan Vinh let emotions get the best of him and lost a gold medal in his favorite 10m air pistol category.
Hoang Xuan Vinh won a gold medal in men's 50m pistol at the Games. 
The 28th SEA Games was due to conclude on June 16, with the closing ceremony held at the National Stadium in Singapore at 6 p.m.
The next event will be hosted by Indonesia in 2017.
Vietnam is considering hosting the 31st SEA Games in 2021.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has instructed relevant agencies to draft a plan to organize the event. The plan will have to be submitted to the Party’s decision making Politburo for approval.
THE FINAL MEDAL COUNT AT THE 28TH SOUTHEAST ASIAN GAMES:

COUNTRY

GOLD

SILVER

BRONZE

TOTAL

THAILAND

95

83

69

247

SINGAPORE

84

73

102

259

VIETNAM

73

53

60

186

MALAYSIA

62

58

66

186

INDONESIA

47

61

74

182

PHIlIPPINES

29

36

66

131

MYANMAR

12

26

31

69

CAMBODIA

1

5

9

15

LAOS

0

4

25

29

BRUNEI

0

1

6

7

TIMOR-LESTE

0

1

1

2

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