HÀ NỘI — Some Vietnamese rowers have already qualified for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, but that doesn’t mean they’re overlooking the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on home turf this winter.
Their target at the 31st SEA Games is six golds after going home titleless two years ago.
“We have made plans since knowing we will host the 31st Games. We want to join hands to organise a successful tournament and make rowing an impressive highlight,” said Nguyễn Hải Đường, general secretary of the Việt Nam Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Federation.
Đường said the sport has strongly developed in recent years and rowing now takes place in 18 cities and province with more than 300 athletes, compared to just a few in the beginning in 1997.
“In ASEAN, our biggest rivals are Indonesia and Thailand. Indonesia really have potential. They made a deep investment in the sport after hosting the Asian Games in 2018. Meanwhile, Thailand are a long-time powerhouse with their science and technology in sport,” said Đường.
“As hosts, we expect to be the best rowing team at the Games with at least six golds. We have made plans in detail in which every member of the coaching staff and athlete has their own duty,” he said.
Rowing at the SEA Games will feature eight categories for men and eight for women in Hải Phòng.
Rowing first came to Việt Nam in 1997 and people started to build it up from nothing.
As one of the first men involved in the sport, Đường spent time driving around to find the right place for the first rowing hub.
In the early days, the rowing team had to work with rudimentary wooden boats and paddles. Ten years later in 2002, they had the first chance to touch carbon-made equipment as Việt Nam was to host the 22nd SEA Games a year later.
“At that time, it was so difficult that we had to rebuild a four-seat boat from two broken two-seat ones with tape and super glue, to serve our training needs,” Đường recalled.
This boat was seen by a world rowing and canoeing federation official who said it showed the world the challenges and obstacles that countries faced in their first days of rowing, he said.
“The other and the biggest difficulty was recruitment. People did not know what rowing was. Our scouts had to go to every corner of the country to not only seek but also persuade people to try rowing. When done, we had to start by teaching them how to step safely into the boat and how to hold the paddle the right way. But luckily, we were all united to develop the sport,” he said.
Since their first training venue at Hà Nội’s West Lake, the team now has two better training locations in Thủy Nguyên District’s Giá River in Hải Phòng and Đồng Xanh Đồng Nghệ Lake in Đà Nẵng.
The first success for Vietnamese rowers was when Nguyễn Đăng Tuấn won the Asian Rowing Championship in China in 2002.
A year later, Vietnamese athletes made a bang with five golds at the SEA Games that they hosted for the first time.
In 2004, Phạm Thị Thi became the first Vietnamese rower to compete in the Olympics in Athens.
Since then, the team have won more than 20 Asian title with the most prestigious the Asian Games title in 2018 in Indonesia by Tạ Thanh Huyền, Lường Thị Thảo, Hồ Thị Lý and Phạm Thị Thảo.
“It was the first gold of Việt Nam and of ASEAN in the Games’ history. I was lucky to be a judge at the event and watched them compete. It was really moving to see them on the way to take gold from 200m to the finish. I burst into tears when they crossed the line,” said Đường.
“On that day, there were nine finals. China dominated all the categories before Việt Nam took the limelight. Our victory also made regional friends jump up to celebrate. It was a triumph for ASEAN. It was a moment of pride.”
Rowers have also made their names as Olympic participants. The Tokyo Games will be the fourth edition featuring Vietnamese rowers after 2004, 2012 and 2016.
Prior to 2019, Viet Nam’s rowers came away from every SEA Games they competed in with gold medals, with the high point in 2015 in Singapore with eight golds.
The 2019 SEA Games was a quiet tournament for Vietnamese athletes. They could only bring home three silvers and one bronze from Manila where all of their strong categories had been removed from the competition by the hosts.
“It is difficult to say it was not a good result because our athletes overcame difficulties to perform their best. Our strong events were not held while the organisers changed the competition from a lake to a bay, which reduced our results because my athletes always train on a lake,” said head coach Lê Văn Quang.
Quang, who guided Đinh Thị Hảo and Lường Thị Thảo to take a Tokyo Games slot in early May, is working to make sure his athletes thrive at the SEA Games in December.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has sidelined athletes from many events, his athletes have been training hard.
The federation recently started digitising athletes’ statistics. All information from recruitment, training, competitions and injuries are updated to improve management and select only the very best for the national team.
“We work online and offline, exchanging exercises programme, results and everything together. We strictly manage athletes’ activities to make sure they are at their best at the Games,” said Quang.
The 52-year-coach added that international competitions were impossible for his players due to COVID-19 but tournaments among crews of national teams would be organised to test their ability and prepare them for competition.
Olympian-to-be Hảo told Việt Nam News: “It is lucky that we are allowed to practice normally. It is tough but I will try my best to be picked for the SEA Games.
“I know I still have some weaknesses but I will work harder for a gold medal this second time”.
Meanwhile her teammate Thảo said her first task was a berth in the national team before others.
“I was a substitute at the 2019 Games. This year, I want to be in the first team and contribute my ability to help Việt Nam win gold,” she said.
Coach Park writes encouraging letter to players
After the historic advance to the final World Cup qualifying round, coach Park Hang-seo has sent players a letter of appreciation and encouragement.
“In the last three games of the second round, we have worked together and advanced to the final round of World Cup qualifiers. This has always been our goal and I’m so delighted about it. I want to thank all the players for believing in me, for giving their best effort with the highest spirit and the assistants who have devoted themselves selflessly day and night to support the team, as well as other members that have tried their best to complete the job,” he wrote.
“Let’s always give our best and be proud that you are a part of the team that have written a new chapter in the history of Vietnamese football.”
He asked the players to enjoy the time with their families during this short break, before going back to their World Cup campaign.
They will have much to do in the road ahead, Park said, promising he will try his best to complete his job.
“We will have to prepare for the final round of World Cup qualifiers in September, to face the top teams in Asia. We need to be more focused, physically, mentally and tactically. If we can stay united and keep giving our best, I believe we can achieve our goal.”
In the second round of World Cup qualifiers, Vietnam went unbeaten in seven games before losing to the UAE in the last match. They advanced to the third round as one of the five best second-placed teams.
The Golden Dragons are set to return to training in August to prepare for the third round, which will take place between Sept. 2, 2021 and March 29, 2022.
Concert on 20th century’s musical pieces to be held online
The fourth concert of the “Music of the 20th Century” series will be broadcast live via Facebook page of the Goethe Institut Vietnam on June 28, in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the institute has announced.
|The banner of the event. (Photo: www.goethe.de)|
The concert series introduces compositions of the 20th and 21st centuries by important living or deceased world-famous composers.
The performers are soloists and lecturers from the Vietnam National Academy of Music and the Inspirito School of Music, notably trumpeter Urushihara Yuki, percussionist Kyle Acuncius, violist Patcharaphan Khumprakob, oboeist Hoang Manh Lam, and pianists Luu Duc Anh and Hoang Ho Thu, among others.
The whole programme promises to be a colourful picture with different styles from many different countries. Starting with Medtners musical style which is strongly influenced by the Romantic tradition, and expanding to very special creations and languages written for the piano by Barber, Ligeti, Ornstein or Japanese composer Hosokawa Toshio.
The soloists of this concerts will in addition explore how modern composers exploit different technique of composing and performing on other instruments such as oboe, trumpet, viola, and percussion or even on a toy piano with works by Goldmann, Vizutti, Hindemith, David Lang and Cangelosi.
Ancient stone stream discovered in Gia Lai Province
An ancient stone stream has been discovered in Ia Phi Commune, Ia Ly Township, Chu Pah District in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.
|An ancient stone stream which is believed to date back over 100 million years ago in Ia Phi Commune, Ia Ly Township, Chu Pah District in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has attracted a lot of visitors. (Photo: VNA)|
Ia Ruai stream flows through many villages in Ia Ly Township before running into the reservoir of the Ia Ly Hydropower Plant.
On a section to Van village of Ia Ly Town which is about 1km long, there is an exposed rocky outcrop, concentrating at two points located about 30 metres apart.
The two sides of the stream, believed to date back over 100 million years ago, are similar hexagonal stone blocks, arranging close together into large and solid blocks which are similar to the rocks at Ganh Da Dia (Reef of Plates) – a special national relic site in Phu Yen Province.
Ha Thi Thuy, a tourist from Pleiku City, said she knew about the stream through social network.
On the weekend, she took her family to Ia Ruai stream and was surprised to see that it was similar to Ganh Da Dia tourist site in Phu Yen. She liked the stream very much and has recommended it to her friends so that they could admire the unique natural beauty of this rock stream.
According to Chu Pah District’s Culture and Information Division, Ia Ruai stream is a potential tourist destination that needs to be protected and retained in its current state. Thus, it suggested the district People’s Committee upgrade the road leading to the stone stream and plant Shunshine trees (Cassia splendida Vogel) along the roads to provide shade for tourists.
Nguyen Quang Tue, head of Heritage Management Division under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Gia Lai Province, said that the ancient rock stream need to be protected and kept the status quo as it has high potential for becoming a tourist destination.
The provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to survey to develop a plan for tourism development and compile a dossier of request for recognising it as a national relic site in the near future, he said.
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