The SEA Games 31 marked a great success for Vietnamese athletics with a record 22 gold medals to lead the team rankings. Athletes of coach Trần Văn Sỹ claimed eight gold medals. Sỹ’ has trained many famous athletes in international tournaments. Thanh Nga talks to him.
Inner Sanctum: Vietnamese track and field athletes brought home 22 gold medals at the SEA Games 31 held in Việt Nam in May. This is the third time in a row Vietnamese track and field has dominated the region. How do you feel?
Now, I still feel joy and happiness when our efforts over the years have paid off. My athletes won golds in the 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m and 3,000m hurdles categories for men and women. The joy multiplied when Việt Nam defended our No 1 position at three consecutive SEA Games.
Inner Sanctum: The Games 31 was a challenging event for Vietnamese athletes. Can you tell me about the difficulties and pressures to prepare for this year’s Games?
Since the end of the Games 30, the coaching staff, coaches and athletes had immediately started training to prepare for the next tournaments, including the Games held in Việt Nam. The common difficulty was that due to the pandemic, athletes did not train and compete much.
However, the leaders of the National Sports Administration, the Hà Nội-based National Sports Training Centre and the training board had internal competitions, which proved very effective. Moreover, athletes from regional countries were also very strong, especially Thailand, which has naturalised athletes of very high quality, but our coaches and athletes were not afraid of that. We did our best in training and competition for our beloved Việt Nam.
Inner Sanctum: How do you rate Vietnamese track and field athletes?
Vietnamese athletes are in good shape like other athletes in the region. The strength of Vietnamese athletes is their diligence and will to overcome difficulties, especially female athletes. If we continue to invest methodically and continuously to hire good experts and practise in a good environment, the Vietnamese athletes will approach the Asian level in many categories in terms of technique.
Inner Sanctum: You have been a track and field coach for the national team for nearly 12 years. Can you share any unforgettable memories?
Each tournament has its own unforgettable memory for me. This year’s Games 31 was an unforgettable memory in my training life. The eight categories in which my athletes competed were all hard events, but they fulfilled their duties and the tactics of the coach. My athlete, Nguyễn Thị Oanh, within 32 hours, won three gold medals under challenging divisions and broke a Sea Games record. She was the first athlete in Southeast Asia to run the women’s 3,000m steeplechase in under 10 minutes (9:52.46).
Inner Sanctum: Are you happy in your career?
I am thrilled to be in this profession and will follow it for the rest of my life. I am proud to work with my dear colleagues at the National Sports Training Centre. I was born to do athletics.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell me a little about your athletic career before switching to coaching?
I was a track and field athlete in Thanh Hóa Province from 1990. In 1994, I was promoted to the national team to practise and compete. I won a silver medal at the 1997 SEA Games in Indonesia in the men’s 800m event. The same year, I won a gold in the 800m and a silver in the 1,500m at the Asia Pacific sports event, Arafura Games in Australia.
After finishing my career as an athlete, in 2003, I worked at the Thanh Hóa Provincial Department of Sports and taught at the Thanh Hóa College of Physical Education and Sports. In 2009, I trained gifted athletes in the provincial athletics team. In 2011, I was assigned to coach the national team.
Inner Sanctum: What role does your family play in your career?
My wife, Hà Thị Mai, also follows sports. She was a karate athlete in the Thanh Hóa team. Now she is the karate coach of the Thanh Hóa Sports Training Centre. She is a person who has encouraged and supported me a lot in life and work. Mai takes care of my family thoughtfully, so I can feel secure in my career. I am very grateful and proud of her.
On weekends, my family sometimes participates in running tournaments to cement the family’s feelings.
Inner Sanctum: What are your upcoming plans?
The athletes and I have just had a week off to go home with friends and family. Currently, we are training again for national tournaments this year. We also plan to train for the regional biggest sports event in 2023 in Cambodia and the Asian Games 19.
We aim to heighten the achievements to gradually approach the Asian level for athletes who have won SEA Games gold medals. I always tell my athletes to never rest on our laurels. Breaking a record is hard, but keeping it is even more difficult. Victory is not for those who are lazy. VNS
Việt Nam crush Philippines in Southeast Asian U19 event
By Thanh Nga
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam crushed the Philippines 4-1 in the 2022 Southeast Asian U19 Football Championship held in Indonesia on Monday afternoon.
Following the goalless draw against Indonesia in the first match, Việt Nam were determined to secure three points.
From the off, Việt Nam were on the front foot. After missing two good chances in the opening exchanges, striker Nguyễn Quốc Việt found the net with his third early effort to open the scoring.
In the 16th minute, striker Nguyễn Văn Trường had a good chance to double the lead but after dribbling through the defence his effort was saved by Lance Jeter Aquino Bencio.
With the sun beating down in Indonesia, Việt Nam conserved their energy in the first half to ensure they never ran out of steam.
The Philippines pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t beat Cao Văn Bình in Việt Nam’s goal.
After the break, Đình Bắc’s pinpoint free-kick was met by Việt who headed home to double the lead.
In the 51st minute, the Philippines had the opportunity to narrow the gap when Sandro Reyes was clean through but his shot went over the crossbar.
However, two minutes later, Sandro Reyes did manage to claw one back for the Philippines.
As the clock ticked, Việt Nam made the game safe, with midfielder Nguyễn Văn Khang scoring from the spot after he was fouled inside the penalty area.
In the 77th minute, Antoine Ortega fouled striker Trường in the Philippines’s penalty area giving the referee no choice but to point at the spot for a second time.
Trường stepped up and cooly slotted home, Panenka-style to take the score to 4-1.
Việt Nam will next face Brunei on July 6, Myanmar on July 8 and then Thailand on July 10.
The regional event have attracted the participation of 11 teams who were divided into two groups, competing in a round-robin format. The first and second teams in each group win the right to the semi-finals.
The tournament will finish on July 15.
Việt Nam won the Southeast Asian U19 Championship once in 2007. VNS
Lan to run against powerhouses at world athletic champs
HÀ NỘI — Quách Thị Lan has earned a place at the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon, the US, where she will face off against the best athletes in the world this month.
She is the sole Vietnamese competitor at the 18th edition tournament, receiving a wildcard position as Việt Nam did not earn any official berth from qualifications.
It will be her second time in the US. Lan enjoyed a one-year training course in Florida, the US, in 2015.
Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, general secretary of the Việt Nam Athletics Federation, said Lan was chosen as the most successful of the Vietnamese competitors.
The 26-year-old was the only track-and-field athlete from Việt Nam to compete at the Tokyo Olympics last July. Her presence in the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals was Việt Nam’s best athletics performance at the Olympics.
Lan won the 400m hurdles in the 2018 Asian Games and 400m hurdles in the Asian championship in 2019.
She claimed two SEA Games titles in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay, and a bronze in the 400m last month.
Lan will travel to Oregon with her Bulgarian coach Vladimir Simeonov who also accompanied her at the Tokyo Games.
“The selection by the sports leaders and coaches is based on different criteria. But I think that I am chosen because of my peak, which will fall in that period,” Lan told Việt Nam News.
“On my side, I have been working hard in my career and hope to contribute as much as possible to the nation. The world championship will be a good opportunity that will push me up and I will show off my ability as a Việt Nam representative,” she said.
Lan said she was honoured to be selected for the first time at the world event. After a short time visiting family after the SEA Games 31 success, she has been back in action to prepare for the event.
“My coaches and I are in an intensive training course. As you all know, my drive to the finish line in the last metres is not good. I understand my weakness. Together with my coaches, I will have to improve that.
“In a long-term job, we will have to build up a suitable plan which will fix my weaknesses and lift my results.”
In the coming event, which is scheduled from July 15-24, Lan will face the world’s strongest runners, including Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin who broke her own world record in the 400m hurdles at the US track and field championships last week.
“To me, participating in the championship and competing against world-leading athletes is an honour. I will have the chance to learn from them and enrich my knowledge and experience for my career. It will help me to strive to run as well as they can,” Lan said.
The Vietnamese athlete said she is not under any pressure of high results but is encouraged to run as best as she can.
Lan will run in the 400m hurdles qualification on July 19. If she qualifies, the semi-finals will be held a day later, while the finals are on July 22.
At the previous world championship in 2019 in Qatar, Việt Nam sent youngster Ngần Ngọc Nghĩa to compete in the men’s 100m event. He did not make the finals. — VNS
Something fishy going on at Everton
I’ve never been to Scott’s seafood restaurant in London’s exclusive Mayfair district, and chances are I never will.
It looks proper fancy, and although I’m sure worth every penny, a little expensive for my modest tastes. (Fish, chips and mushy peas will set you back VNĐ1 million).
According to one English national newspaper, on Monday evening earlier this week two men met there for a dinner meeting.
They were Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy and his good friend and Everton FC counterpart Bill Kenwright.
It seems the pair were discussing the sale of Everton striker Richarlison to White Hart Lane with the price thought to be somewhere in the region of $60m.
The 25-year-old Brazilian is a great talent, already a regular in his national team and still has his best footballing years ahead of him.
He will be a fine addition to Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side and could be the difference that will see Spurs finally win a trophy, their last being the Carling Cup in 2008.
But the big news here for me is not Tottenham’s attempt to buy the Brazilian, but Everton’s willingness to sell.
Maybe by the time this column is printed, a deal will have already been completed, and Richarlison will soon be revealed as a Tottenham Hotspur player.
Good news for Spurs, awful for Everton.
Last season the Blues hung on to their place in the Premier by the skin of their teeth. It was touch and go as the campaign drew to a close but in the end, helped massively by a galvanised supporter base, Everton clung on.
This coming season could see one of two things happen. Either they take on board the scare of last, and use it to push on and improve, or they spend another season desperately fighting for every point in the hope of survival.
In Frank Lampard they have a good, young, keen and willing manager, ready to do all he can to improve the club.
But it seems the willingness from those who hold the purse strings to sell their best players could be the death of Everton.
There have also been rumours surrounding the futures of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and midfielder Anthony Gordon.
Goalkeeper Jordon Pickford, also England’s number one, is another soon out of contract. If those three, on top of Richarlison, also decide to leave Goodison Park then I fear for their future.
Everton are what you would class as a ‘selling club’. It’s highly unlikely a mega-star will choose the Blues over the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea.
But that said, Everton need to do all they can to hold on to their very best players, for at least next season, before deciding to cash in.
Selling the likes of Richarlison may bring a tidy profit, but it could just send Everton spiralling headfirst into the Championship.
And that will be something Evertonians will find hard to swallow, even if it is served with the best possible oysters on the menu at Scott’s. VNS
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