Vietnamese sport at 2016 Olympics: Not just successes

The Vietnamese sports delegation had their first taste of success at the Olympic Games in Rio after securing one gold and one silver medal thanks to the efforts of marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh.

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Shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh, hero of the Vietnam sports delegation in Rio.

Alongside the “historic feat” in shooting, there, however, remain the defeats that need to be analysed for lessons of experience.

From the failure of anticipated weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan…

Among Vietnamese Olympians in Rio, weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan caused the biggest disappointment. As said by head of the weightlifting department Do Dinh Khang, it was a “shocking” failure of Vietnamese weightlifting at the Olympic arena.

Tuan had been regarded as Vietnam’s biggest hope for a medal in Rio. As one of the world’s top athletes in the men’s 56kg category, a bronze medal had been considered almost within Tuan’s reach even with the recurrence of his injuries. 

Yet, contrary to expectations, Tuan could only manage a clean and jerk lift of 130kg, and failed at all the three lifts – two at 157kg and one at 160kg – in the snatch category.

One of the main reasons for Tuan’s failure was due to injury; however, psychological factors were also mentioned by a number of experts. 

The Vietnamese lifter did not succeed in the first two lifts (both clean & jerk and snatch), which had not been anticipated by the coaching staff and ran counter to the initial forecasts. 

Tuan had to increase the weights in the next lifts to foster the medal-winning opportunity, but yet again failed.

The key athlete has received a lot of investment over the past years but failed too quickly in an unexpected scenario. 

Head of the weightlifting department Do Dinh Khang said he took all responsibilities for Tuan’s failure. However, what is necessary at present is to provide timely encouragement to Tuan so that he will soon recover from his failure and continue training and competing. 

More importantly, Vietnamese weightlifting also needs to draw lessons of experience concerning preparations for such a large playground as the Olympics.

…to the unfillable gaps

In addition to shooting, most of Vietnam’s Olympians in other sports quickly ended their Olympic campaign in Rio.

Nguyen Thi Anh Vien’s missing out on the finals of three swimming events had been forecast. 

Despite breaking the SEA Games records in the women’s 400m individual medley, the Can Tho-born swimmer could not overcome herself in the remaining two disciplines, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley.

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Swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien did not live up to expectations in Rio.

“I have experienced failure at the Olympics. I am so sorry for my poor performance. I promise to train much more to improve myself in the future,” Vien said sadly.

Vien’s direct trainer Hoang Anh Tuan has put forward relatively profound analysis concerning his favourite student’s Rio performance.

“Right from the beginning, I had it clear in my mind that Vien was aiming towards the 18th Asian Games in 2019 and then the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. So, it is not surprising that she missed out on a medal at this year’s Games. We must move ahead step by step and cannot cut corners”.

If Anh Vien is considered a “reserve” for the Olympics in four years’ time, the defeats of Vietnamese Olympians in judo, fencing, weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics and rowing, demonstrate wide gaps in terms of profession compared to global opponents.

According to former Director of the High-performance Department Nguyen Hong Minh, success always comes parallel with failure. 

Vietnam’s success at the 2016 Olympics is clear but the failures need to be reviewed by managers, which is the inadequate investment for key sports, Minh said. 

He added that drastic actions must be taken by the sports sector if Vietnam wants to break further into the Olympic arena.

From another perspective, Vice President of the Vietnam Olympic Committee Hoang Vinh Giang affirmed that the glorious victory of shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh will be a perfect impetus and momentum for Vietnamese sport to look towards a bright future. 

Shooting, along with other key sports, will receive more attention. Strategy makers for the sports sector need to continue building “avenues” by a “long-term, solid, intensive and extensive” plan, Giang said.

Vietnamese sport has yet to complete its entire journey at the Rio Olympic Games but all of its colours have come out, including pleasure, sadness and disappointment. 

We do hope that the success of the shooting squad will be multiplied, while the failures in other events will be carefully analysed so that they will become the “mother” of other success.

Nhan Dan

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