VN Olympic team heads to Tokyo carrying the hopes and dreams of nation

The Vietnam Olympics Team on July 18 left for Tokyo carrying the hopes and dreams of the nation.

The 43-strong contingent with 18 athletes will compete in 11 sports. Of which weightlifting, shooting and taekwondo are the favourites to bring home a medal.

Veteran badminton player Nguyen Tien Minh has the most experience at the Olympics. This will be his fourth trip to the Olympics.

At the age of 38 Minh is the oldest player in the men’s singles category but he still has high hopes.

“I feel positive ahead of my fourth Games. I think my physique and spirit are good for tough matches. It is obvious that my experience through previous games will be to my advantage and give me an edge against strong rivals in Tokyo,” said Minh, who once was ranked the world No 5.

“I will give 100% to ensure I get the best results I can. I hope that the Tokyo Games will be my most successful and Vietnam’s too,” said Minh, who plans to retire after this summer’s tournament.

Marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh is the oldest Vietnamese athlete turning 47 in October.

Tokyo will be Vinh’s third Olympics, with a special invitation from the organisers after he failed to take an official slot. He is the defending champion in the men’s 10m air pistol.

Vinh made history in Rio in 2016 when he was the first Vietnamese person to win a gold medal at an Olympics. The soldier came home with one gold and one silver, making it the most successful Olympics for Vietnam ever coming 50th in the medal tally.

“The invitation is a surprise to me as I did not have good results in the qualifiers. It is a rare opportunity and I will come to Tokyo with a free spirit and compete with a focused mind,” said Vinh.

Head Coach Nguyen Thi Nhung, said Vinh recently scored 580-582 points in each training session. If maintained, this would put him among the final eight competitors in Tokyo.

Swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien is also attending her third Olympics. She was invited to compete in the women’s 200m and 800m freestyle. Vien is the most successful swimmer in Vietnam to date winning a number of gold medals at the SEA Games.

Weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan will compete in the Olympics for the second time. In his debut in Rio, in 2016, Tuan competed in the men’s 56kg class. This year, he has been bumped up to 61kg.

“I promise to work hard and try my best during the competition. I hope to bring home a medal this time,” said Tuan, who is the world number 4.

Do Thi Anh Nguyet, 20, is the youngest athlete in the team. She will compete in the women’s individual archery.

The Asian Championship bronze medalist, Nguyet is among 14 athletes to make their first appearance at an Olympics.

Gymnast Le Thanh Tung can’t wait to compete in the men’s vault.

“I suffered an ankle injury during my preparation but have totally recovered and I am in great shape. I am confident and determined to get the highest score in the Olympics,” he said.

Former Asian boxing champion Nguyen Thi Tam will be a fresh face in Tokyo but her path to the Olympics wasn’t easy.

“I struggled to win my Olympic’s slot. I am really happy with my first time here. But I dream bigger. In my mind I always think ‘try and try harder’. I don’t care who my rivals are. I will just do everything I can to go as far as I can in the Olympics and it would be great to win a medal,” she said. Tam is one of two boxers who have seen Vietnam return to the boxing ring at the Olympics after a 32 year hiatus.

Vietnam Sports Administration Deputy Director Tran Duc Phan has pinned his hopes of a  medal on the weightlifting team.

“Weightlifters Tuan and Hoang Thi Duyen are our best hopes. They have the best chance to bring home a medal”.

“Tuấn will face challenges in his category but we really believe in him.”

“Meanwhile if she could perform like what she practises at home Duyen will be in the top three,” he said.

The 24-year-old Duyen will compete in the women’s 59kg, facing title favourites Kuo Hsing-chun of Chinese Taipei and Andoh Mikiko from Japan.

Taekwondo fighter Truong Thi Kim Tuyen is another promising talent. 

After months sharpening her skills in Kazakhstan and with a gold medal from the Asian championships last month, Tuyen is expected to finish in the top three in the women’s 49kg discipline.

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