HÀ NỘI The SEA Games is always a priority for Vietnamese athletes. Now, the chance to compete in a Games on home soil has drawn former champions like Trần Thị Yến Hoa out of retirement.
Hoa announced that she was retiring after winning silver and bronze at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019.
Hoa, who holds an M.A in sports training, wanted to start coaching. She has been working for Thừa Thiên-Huế Province’s Sports Department since moving to Bắc Ninh Province.
However, she has since admitted she has had second thoughts.
“I really want to compete at the 31st Games on hometurf. It is the key reason that I want to come back,” the 31-year-old Hoa told Việt Nam News.
“Only athletes in the top three of the National Championship earn a place in the national team for the SEA Games. So I have to run against young and fast competitors at the coming national tournament,” said Hoa.
Coach Hoa was one of the first officials at Bắc Ninh’s Sports Department’s Athletics Section, which was established recently.
While taking charge of the training of young athletes, Hoa has also been training for her own comeback, which by her own admission is not easy, but very exciting.
“I have been training hard and I think my results are pretty good. But I haven’t competed for two years while my rivals have progressed. I hope I can catch up with them,” said Hoa.
Hoa made her SEA Games debut in 2015 and won a bronze in the 100m hurdles in Singapore, with a time of 13.64sec. Two years later in Malaysia, she rose to the top of the podium, with 13.40sec. A few days later, she secured her second gold in the 4x100m event.
However, Hoa failed to defend both two titles in the previous Games in the Philippines. The runner could only run 13.75sec in her main event, the 100m hurdles. The result was not as good as at previous Games and below her own expectations.
“I don’t know how I will run but I will try my best. We will see how goes on December 12 at the Mỹ Đình Stadium. I hope that with my return, and my possible high result, I can also help Bắc Ninh Team see a strong push in our development.”
At her event, Hoa will compete against eight runners. Among them is defending champion Huỳnh Thị Mỹ Tiên of Vĩnh Long, the title favourite.
She won last years championship with a time of 14.17sec. Tiên, 22, was an arch-rival of Hoa’s in the past.
Hoa is the not only athlete to return this year.
Former Asian Games (ASIAD) long jump winner Bùi Thị Thu Thảo is also back in action after two years.
Thảo, who has been off since giving birth to a baby girl in 2019, will showcase her brilliant talent at the tournament. She hopes to compete in the long jump, triple jump and relay.
Her target is not only a berth on the national team but also long jump gold medals at the 31st Games next May and the 19th ASIAD next September in China.
Thảo’s absence at the 30th Games cost Việt Nam a gold medal, which went to Maria Natalia Londa of Indonesia. Her young teammate Vũ Thị Mộng Mơ finished third.
Thảo, 30, is jumping over 6m in training. A jump of 6.55m secured her the Asian Games title in 2018. Her personal best, which is also a national record, of 6.68m made her SEA Games champion in Malaysia in 2017.
A gold medal at the coming tournaments will help Thảo have enough money to buy her own home after many years of living in a rented apartment.
“I will work hard to reach my targets and bonuses will be used to make my dream (of a house) come true,” said Thảo, who is also coaching the Hà Nội Team.
SEA Games 10,000m champion Phạm Thị Huệ has also chosen to return at the 2021 championship after her maternity leave.
Huệ began training again in August, just five months after giving birth to a son.
“I have rested for more than a year. But my goal is to defend my title at the 31st Games. I want to win the national championship in my strong points of 5,000m and 10,000m events,” said Huệ.
Talking about her athletes, coach Nguyễn Thị Hoa said Huệ has amazing stamina. Her events are two of the toughest in athletics, but Huệ shows her great determination and she never gives up.
Huệ first competed at the SEA Games in 2015 when she was 19. She has won one gold and two silvers in 10,000m and one silver in 5,000m since then.
The National Athletics Championship will be held on December 9-13 at the Mỹ Đình Stadium. Nearly 400 athletes will compete in 50 events. VNS