HÀ NỘI – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all parts of life, but Vietnamese athletes Nguyễn Thị Oanh and Nguyễn Thành Ngưng appear unfazed as they set new national athletics records in Hà Nội.
Sports activities have returned in the new normal and the National Athletics Championship, one of the most important annual events in Việt Nam, is ongoing at the Mỹ Đình Stadium.
Hundreds of competitors are vying for personal glory and a place in the national team to compete at the coming 31st SEA Games in the capital city next May.
Ngưng of Đà Nẵng continued to dominate the men’s 20,000m walking with his 12th title in a row on Saturday. His result of 1hr 33min 22.06sec is a new national record.
“My teammates and I were training at the locked National Sports Training Centre in Đà Nẵng for five months. The ‘bubble model’ helped me to train well though I had to work without a coach for a short period because at that time the city was in lockdown and everyone had to stay at home,” Ngưng told Việt Nam News.
“I set a time of 1hr 35 min during training and regularly made it. In the last two months, I put 100 per cent into training and targeted a new record. It seems that my excitement and commitment helped me to complete my mission. I was little surprised at the time,” said Ngưng, who set the previous record of 1:36:09 at the 2019 championship in HCM City.
The 2016 Rio Olympian now sets his sights on the Hà Nội SEA Games.
“I plan to keep practising hard to prepare for the Asian championships in March in Japan and the 31st Games. I hope to do even better and make everyone proud at the Games on home soil,” he said.
Oanh — the unbeaten champion
Oanh has been Việt Nam’s best performing athlete in the last two years, winning all regional and local tournaments that she has taken part in.
The 2021 national championship is no exception.
After winning gold in the women’s 1,500m event in the morning, Oanh from Bắc Giang Province took the 5,000m title on Friday afternoon.
Her result of 15min 53.48sec is a new national record. Oanh broke the old record of 16:12.73 set in 2003 by Đoàn Nữ Trúc Vân of Khánh Hoà.
“I can’t describe my happiness right now. It is a surprise to me,” Oanh told Việt Nam News after finishing.
“Like other athletes, I have not participated in any tournament this year because of the COVID-19. It is my first official tournament.
“I am happy to have defended my 1,500m title and now the 5,000m. I have dominated this event for years and dreamed of setting a new record. I was a little tired after running the 1,500m in the morning so I just asked myself to run 5,000m as well as possible to keep my top position,” said Oanh as she caught her breath.
“Her result is amazing. Oanh gave me got goosebumps as I was sure she would break the record over the last few hundred metres,” said Dương Đức Thủy, former head of Việt Nam Sports Administration’s Athletics Section.
“The 5,000m record has existed for 18 years and we have waited a long time to see a new one. Oanh is outstanding, she is the first Vietnamese female athlete to run 5,000m in less than 16 minutes,” said Thủy, who watched Oanh secure three gold medals and one record at the previous SEA Games in the Philippines.
Oanh’s time is even better than the current SEA Games’ record of 15:54.32.
“This result will not only maintain her in the top podium of the coming SEA Games but also push her to the top three of the Asian championship and the Asian Games,” said Thủy.
It is the second year that Oanh has grabbed a record. Last year, she set a new record in the 10,000m event with a time of 34:08.54. The old record was 34:48.28 also set by Đoàn Nữ Trúc Vân of Khánh Hoà in 2003.
“Although COVID-19 has affected everyone, the result shows my good preparation for the championship and the tournaments in 2022. I have been working really hard under coach Trần Văn Sỹ, who gives me an appropriate training curriculum so that I can push up my results and break records,” said Oanh. She completed her gold hat-trick after winning in the 3,000m steeplechase yesterday morning.
“Pressure is on us at every tournament. To me, pressure is a challenge and a strong push to compete and get the highest results. This success will encourage me to achieve more titles in the next events, especially the 31st SEA Games,” said Oanh.
The 26-year-old, who can run well in the marathon, will compete in her last event of 10,000m today and targets not only gold, but also another record. VNS