After 17 years of waiting, Nguyễn Linh Na has helped Vietnamese athletics claim their first SEA Games gold medal in the heptathlon.
Attending the region’s biggest sports event for the first time, Na caused an upset when she won the gold medal in the women’s heptathlon with 5,415 points, breaking Vietnamese Nguyễn Thị Thu Cúc’s 17-year national record of 5,350 points in the process.
This was also the first time since 2005 that Vietnamese athletics won gold in this category in the regional Games. Na’s achievement is even more special as just two years ago, she intended to retire because of a necrosis injury.
“I think playing one sport is boring, so playing seven sports will be more interesting. It is the first time I have attended the SEA Games and to win the gold medal at home made me extremely happy,” Na said.
Na is 25 years old. She is a Mường ethnic from Hòa Bình Province and is an athlete in the Military team. A few months ago, her achievement at the national championship was 5,096 points and she herself was surprised that she was able to improve her achievement by more than 300 points to win the SEA Games gold medal at home.
A challenging medal
The heptathlon is the toughest event to win a medal in the track and field. At this year’s Games, only six athletes from Việt Nam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand participated. SEA Games 30 bronze medalist Sunisa Khotseemueang of Thailand dropped out after the first three sports.
Na and Hoàng Phương Giang represented Việt Nam. They had to compete in seven sports in just two days including 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m run, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run.
“When I competed in the first sports, I didn’t think I could win. Really, right now I don’t still believe I took the gold medal. The score of 5,415 is also my best achievement so far,” Na said.
“At first, I was a bit nervous because I attended the SEA Games for the first time. But the home turf advantage and support of the audience gave me a great motivation to achieve this result. I would like to thank everyone,” Na added.
Na’s victory was even more meaningful as she overcame the SEA Games 30 gold medalist Sarah Dequinan of the Philippines and SEA Games 30 silver medalist Norliyana Kamaruddin of Malaysia.
The coach who inspired Na is a familiar face of military and Vietnamese sports, Lieutenant Colonel Vũ Văn Huyện. Huyện is famous in the region, having won gold in the men’s decathlon in four consecutive SEA Games.
Huyện himself was also surprised by Na’s achievement: “I thought Na would win about 5,200 points as in the national championship in 2021, her score was only 5,096 points. However, she performed well in all events and won a spectacular gold medal. The desire to dedicate herself to the country’s sports at her first Games has given Na a great source of strength”.
“I was more nervous and trembling when I watched Na compete than when I competed in the past. However, she was good, really good. I saw that she has supernatural power. She performed smoothly in any categories, without errors. She suffered an injury to her thigh but she never gave up. Her fitness was only about 70 per cent but her efforts were great,” Huyện added.
According to Na, she met her injury after completing the 2020 tournament and had to have surgery.
“In 2020, I had a period when I wanted to quit training because this sport requires a lot of physical strength. I was very discouraged and wanted to give up, but my will did not allow it. I wanted to play at the SEA Games held at home, compete for the first time and bring glory to the country,” Na said.
Witnessing her daughter win a gold medal at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium, Nguyễn Thị Thủy, Na’s mother, said: “That’s what I expected. Before, I just thought it was a dream, but the Games 31 has turned the dream come true. When I hold my daughter in my arms, I could only say thank you.”
Thủy said Na didn’t tell her about her difficult times in training, only promising to try her best to win.
From an unknown athlete in Vietnamese athletics, Na has gradually asserted herself, overcoming injuries and difficulties during training and competition to reach the pinnacle of regional success.
This is the “sweet fruit” for the Mường girl after more than ten years of training in this fierce sport.
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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