Vietnam will send six powerlifters, namely Le Van Cong, Nguyen Binh An, Dang Thi Linh Phuong, Chau Hoang Tuyet Loan, Nguyen Thanh Xuan and Nguyen Van Phuc and four swimmers including Vo Thanh Tung, Nguyen Thanh Trung, Trinh Thi Bich Nhu and Do Thanh Hai to Mexico.
Among the powerlifters, Cong has medal hopes in the men’s 49kg. He won gold medals in the 2016 Paralympics and the ASEAN Para Games this year.
In this category, 33-year-old Cong will face four rivals from Hungary, Jordan, Nigeria and Turkey. He will seek his first world title against defending world champion Adesokan Yakubu, 38, of Nigeria.
They have already competed at the latest edition of the world championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2014, with Yakubu taking gold.
Cong became the first athlete from his country to win a Paralympics medal last year. He did so thanks to a world record 183kg lift, 3kg heavier than the mark set by Yakubu at the 2012 London Paralympics 2012.
“I am now very excited to take part in world championship in Mexico. I am eager to meet Yakubu again. However I don’t feel under any pressure in the tournament,” Cong said.
“I am only afraid that the weather in Mexico is very cold now so I won’t adapt myself to the weather. In addition to the two-days travel, my physical strength won’t be as good as at home,” Cong added.
To prepare for the tournament, Cong and his teammates have trained six days a week.
According to head coach Nguyen Hong Phuc of the weightlifting team, the time from the Para Games held in Malaysia in September to the world event was short so Vietnamese players had to skip their recovery period to focus on training.
“Skipping recovery can increase injury risk for athletes during the training. This made me and the leaders feel anxious. However, they are now in good form and ready for the upcoming tournament,” said Phuc.
On Cong’s weight category in Mexico, Phuc said: “This is a very difficult event for Cong as it attracts the world’s leading athletes so we only set a target that Cong will finish in the top three.”
While the weightlifting team left for Mexico on November 29, the swimming team arrived in Mexico City.
“The team have just arrived in Mexico. We are now rather tired after two-day journey. However, we will make every effort to gain medals,” coach Dong Quoc Cuong said.
Among four Vietnamese swimmers, Vo Thanh Tung is expected to shine. The 32-year-old Tung will compete in the men’s 50m backstroke-S5, 50m freestyle-S5 and 100m freestyle-S5.
“It is the second time I have taken part in the world event. I hope I can reach the podium in Mexico,” Tung said.
Earlier, Tung brought home the bronze medal in the 50m freestyle in the world championships held in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago. In the Paralympics 2016 in Brazil, the southern province of An Giang-born swimmer won silver in the same category.
In Mexico, five-time Asian champion Tung will face Brazilian legend, Daniel Dias in all the above mentioned divisions.
They have been facing each other at major competitions since the London Paralympics in 2012, with Dias always coming out on top.
At last year’s Paralympics, Dias and Tung starred in the 50m freestyle, with Brazil’s most decorated Para athlete in history clocking 32.78secs to finish ahead of Tung (33.94), who won his country’s first Paralympic medal ever in the sport.
Besides Tung, the 30-year-old Trinh Thi Bich Nhu is also a candidate for a medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke-SB5. Như won silver in the world championships in 2015.
Earlier, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) postponed its world championships following the earthquake in Mexico City.
It is the first time two world events are being held in the same time and place.