Marksman Vinh to skip SEA Games and aim for Olympics

Olympic champion shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh has announced he will not compete at the 31st Southeast Asian Games to be held in Vietnam next year.

marksman vinh to skip sea games and aim for olympics hinh 0
Marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh (Photo: VNA)

Vice President of the Vietnam Shooting Federation (VFS) Nguyen Thi Nhung confirmed the news.

“Vinh is an experienced athlete who has participated in many Games. But if he continues joining the regional tournament, there will be no chance for the young ones,” said Nhung who is the head coach of the national team.

“We thought a lot before making the decision.”

According to Nhung, Vinh's teammate Tran Quoc Cuong, 45, may also withdraw from the Games which will be held in Hanoi and surrounding cities and provinces.

Vinh specialises in the men’s 10m air pistol events which he won a gold and a silver, respectively, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

2016 Olympian Cuong who placed fourth at the 2010 World Championship also competes in men’s 10m air pistol and 50m pistol.

Both men, who finished intensive training camps in the Republic of Korea in March, will focus on earning berths at the coming Olympics in Tokyo next July.

“(Many qualifiers are over but) I have not secured a ticket to Japan. However, there are chances with several events in the next months,” said 45-year-old Vinh.

“Despite being reigning champion I can’t ensure what’s going to happen because the Olympics is a really competitive event with the participation of all the best shooters in the world,” he said.

According to Nhung, also the VFS’s general secretary, after their SEA Games’ retirement, Vietnam’s hopes lie with young marksmen.

Vietnam dominated shooting at the SEA Games since 2009 with 11 gold medals to lead the ranking table. In the next two events, Vietnamese marksmen secured seven each but they were still the top team.

However, their gold medal haul fell to four in the 28th Games in 2015 and one in the 29th Games two years later.

2019 was a big failure as they set a target of one gold but could not make the task.

Vinh lost his title after his poor performance in the last shots and ended with a silver, behind Pongpol Kulchairattana of Thailand.

After the loss, Vinh said he tried his best but the result was unexpected and admitted the pressure since his success in Rio in 20165 had gotten to him.

Nhung said Vietnam’s poor results were due to the country depending too much on veteran athletes.

“To have elite athletes we need to build up a young generation from localities’ clubs. The best of them will be selected through national championships and trained more at the national team. The youngsters would give a stronger push to our team,” said Nhung.

“However it will be a long process. I think we will have to wait from at least six to eight years to have one reach the international level and have a result at Olympics,” she said.

VNS/VNA