HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese kurash martial art team is set to defend their gold medals at the upcoming SEA Games on home turf.
At the previous meet in the Philippines, the team made a bang with seven golds, one silver and two bronzes, meaning that they had medals in all 10 categories available in Manila.
The coaching board said their result was unexpected. They did a better job than planned.
Next month, there will also be 10 categories organised for both men and women.
“This year’s tournament will be more competitive because, in each weight class, each country can send up to two competitors, one more than the Manila Games,” said Hoàng Quốc Vinh, head of Elite Sport Department 1 of the Việt Nam Sports Administration (VSA).
Việt Nam’s golden hopes are Nguyễn Thị Lan (women’s U70kg), Bùi Minh Quân (men’s U81kg), Trần Thương (men’s U90kg), Vũ Ngọc Sơn (men’s U73kg), Lê Đức Đông (men’s U66kg) and Trần Thị Thanh Thủy (women’s U70kg) among others.
“For months, COVID-19 has prevented us from doing our best preparation for the SEA Games,” said national head coach Nguyễn Tuấn Học.
“We could not go out for training and competing as planned but had to choose the most suitable training courses and competitions.
“However, my athletes are doing great. They strictly follow my plan and curriculum, focusing on the target of No 1 position in SEA Games.”
In preparing for the regional biggest sports festival, Vietnamese athletes took part in a three-week camp in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in March and grabbed remarkable achievements.
They competed in the Asian championship and won one silver and three bronzes during the camp. They also grabbed two golds, one silver and one bronze.
Coach Học said it was an important warm-up for the team and a strong push for his athletes just two months ahead of their key competition.
“Through the training and competing tour, my athletes learnt a new techniques while strengthening their current skills. At the same time, we can watch Thai and Indonesian fighters who will be our main opponents at the SEA Games,” said Học.
The head coach said to top the podium again, his athletes must win at least five titles.
“At the 30th Games, we were in good condition as it was the first time the martial art was organised, but Vietnamese artists had trained pretty well, leading to such remarkable success. This year, all teams have prepared, some of them even ‘imported’ high-quality athletes, then winning golds will be more difficult,” said Học.
“Most of the athletes who won in the previous Games are to defend their titles in May. Besides, we also have some young talents such as Tô Thị Trang (women’s U48kg), Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Hân (women’s U52kg), and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Trâm (women’s U70kg) who can make a break.”
Kurash will be held at the Hà Nội’s Hoài Đức Gymnasium from May 10-13.
“Competing on home turf will be an advantage for us in this Games. It encourages us to work harder and defend our golds and Việt Nam’s top place,” said U70 class reigning champion Lan.
VSA Deputy Director Trần Đức Phấn said the best conditions would be given to the team for both training and competing in the last month of the SEA Games.
Time is limited, so athletes will travel to different local destinations for practice and have internal competitions.
For long term plans, the team will be sent to countries where kurash is well developed to have a chance to improve their skills and shine in higher level tournaments.
Kurash is a folk wrestling discipline primarily practised in the regions of Central Asia. The objective of the sport is to grab hold of the opponent by the towel around their waist and throw them onto the ground on their back.
This combat originated in the territory of Uzbekistan about 3,500 years ago. Modern kurash has been organised internationally since the end of the 1990s. — VNS