Vietnam’s top swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien will be the country's main medal hope at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 31 to be held in Vietnam next year.
According to experts, although winning Olympic gold will be very difficult for Vien, winning seven gold medals at the regional event is within her reach.
According to Tran Duc Phan, deputy director of the National Sports Administration, the administration is planning to hire a foreign expert to coach Vien, but these efforts have been hamstrung by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After many years of training in the US, this year, Vien has been working at the National Sports Training Centre in HCM City.
Instead of focusing on many disciplines, Vien is focusing on key distances, especially in the women’s 400m medley.
At the start of this year, she was quite sad when she had to split up with a longtime teacher.
At one point, she shared in the press that she wanted to continue to be coached by Dang Anh Tuan. However, now, according to the leaders of the National Sports Training Centre, Viên has gotten used to her new training regime.
The 1996-born swimmer had been training under coach Tuan since 2011. She performed well under his tutelage, until recent years when she began to struggle, particularly at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, where she failed to win a medal.
At the 30th SEA Games last year in the Philippines, Vien won six gold medals, two short of her goal.
Early this year, Tuan told the National Sports Administration he would stop coaching Vien as Tuan was involved in a scandal related to borrowing money from former model Trang Tran.
“According to the proposal of the Aquatic Sports Association, Vien will be coached by a Chinese expert. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work cannot be implemented. In case of not hiring experts, she can be sent to train in Hungary,” said Phan.
Vien won 10 gold medals in 10 different events at the 2011 National Swimming Championship at the age of 15, before taking home two silvers from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia the same year.
She made her Olympics debut as the youngest athlete of Vietnam in London in 2012, competing in the women’s 200m backstroke and 400m medley events.
Vien then took three golds, two silvers and one bronze, and broke two records in 200m backstroke and 400m medley at the 2013 SEA Games.
At the 2014 Asian Games, she won the bronze medals which made history for Vietnam to win a medal at the continental competition.
At the 2015 SEA Games, Vien took eight gold medals, one silver and one bronze to help Vietnam secure second place in swimming behind host Singapore.
Vien also competed in the 2016 Olympics but did not win any medals.
At the 2017 SEA Games, she also won eight gold medals, breaking three Games records.