Women win first track-and-field medals at Asian Games

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Female athletes Truong Thanh Hang and Vu Thi Huong won the Vietnam's first ever silver and bronze medals at Asian Games for track-and-field events.

Southeast Asian 1,500m and 800m champion Truong Thanh Hang took the silver medal in the women's 1,500m race in Guangzhou, China on Tuesday (November 23), coming in behind Bahrain's Jamal Maryam Yusuf Isa.

Ethiopia-born Jamal was the 2006 Asian Games champion in the women's 1,500m and 800m races. She also won the 1,500m gold medal at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 and in Berlin in 2009.

Hang's favorite is the 800m category in which she won the gold medal in the Asian Championships in 2007.

At the 16th Asian Games this year, the 1,500m race took place before the 800m, so the coaching staff decided to let Hang give it a try.

They'd asked her to stay in the back of the group for the first 800 meters to save energy, but Hang kept herself among the first five throughout, stepping up the pace during the final 500 meters.

She continued to keep pace with Jamal and the other Bahrain competitor Gebregeiorges Mimi Belete when they began running faster with 200 meters to go.

Her spurt in the final 50 meters took her past Gebregeiorges, and she finished the race in four minutes nine seconds 58 while Jamal did it in four minutes, eight seconds 22.

It was Hang's personal best, breaking the four minutes, 11 seconds 60 record she set at the Southeast Asian Games in Nakhon, Thailand in 2007.

The silver medal was very meaningful for Huong and for Vietnam because it was the first silver medal in the women's 1,500 meter category for her and the country.

Speaking after the race, Hang said, "I had expected to just win the bronze medal because this category is not my favorite and also I was competing against other world-class athletes.

"The most wonderful moment was when I passed the other Bahrain rival in the final meters. I am very happy and surprised to win a silver medal at the Asian Games."

Earlier on Monday, Southeast Asian sprint queen Vu Thi Huong grabbed the bronze medal in the women's 100m event.

It was not only Huong's first medal at the games, but also Vietnam's first podium finish in the women's 100 meter contest.

She came in behind Japan's Fukushima Chisato and Uzbekistan's Khubbieva Guzel to finish with a time of 11 seconds 43. Fukushima covered the distance in 11 seconds 33 and Khubbieva in 11 seconds 34.

Very happy with her performance, Huong said after the event, "The other rivals were very strong. I did my best but couldn't do it better.

"Anyway, I'm very happy with this medal at Asian Games. This is a good result for my training hard."

Duong Duc Thuy, Head of the Athletics Department of the Physical Training and Sports Committee, said, "The first ever medals at Asian Games in the athletics event are very precious for Vietnam. Huong's success will set a good example for other Vietnamese athletes to fight more in competitions on the Asian stage."

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