HÀ NỘI — The SEA Games is just a short sprint away, and now is the time athletes across the country are putting in the final legwork to make sure they are fit, in peak condition, and ready for the off.
Performing on home soil is also a huge incentive for our stars to show off their skills.
Long-distance runner Đặng Anh Quyết can’t wait to hit the track and compete, even though he is still to turn professional.
Organisers of the 31st Games have opened up the marathon to 200 amateur runners who will get the chance to go head-to-head with elite athletes from the region.
This opportunity has sent Quyết in a spin, and he is desperate to show the country what he can do.
At the VPBank Hanoi Marathon in early March, the 32-year-old made his dream come true after finishing in top three overall to earn a place at the games. His time was even better than a professional, national team member.
Run to live, live to run
Born in 1990 in Nam Định Province, Quyết didn’t plan on becoming a marathon runner.
As student, he started running to keep fit, but just a couple of kilometres each day. After graduating as an engineer, he moved to HCM City in 2014 where he continued running.
“I never thought I could run such a long distance,” he told Việt Nam News.
“When I was a student I just ran several laps around Hà Nội’s Thống Nhất Park. But gradually I managed longer routes and I completed my first half marathon (21km) under two hours by the end of 2014.
“The more I ran the better I got. In early 2015, I completed a full marathon (42km) in 4hr 35 min. Now my personal best is 2:37.28.”
His love for running grew and grew, and Quyết quit his job as an engineer to be a marathon athlete and coach.
In the past two years, he entered a number of tournaments, winning seven and finishing second in four.
Although Quyết has only been competing as an amateur, elite runners took note of his abilities. In the past three years, he has finished every race in under three hours.
His personal best at the 2022 VPBank Marathon was the fastest ever run by an amateur in the country and was enough to grant him a place at the SEA Games.
“Completing the VP Bank Marathon in 2 hours 37 minutes was planned,” said Quyết who trains by running 120km every week.
“I worked really hard to complete that task. I was happy to know that I am the fastest amateur runner in Việt Nam.
“Being one of 200 runners at SEA Games was also my target and I made it.
“The marathon is a harsh event. I believe with the company of strong amateurs, the elite runners will feel encouraged and push for best result.”
SEA Games, here I come
Later this week, Quyết will take part in the Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon, which is a key event in the national athletics tournaments system.
It will be his sixth time running Việt Nam’s oldest and biggest marathon which lures more than 3,700 competitors vying for medals in both elite and amateur disciplines in categories ranging 5km to 42km in Côn Đảo Island, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province.
“I am training hard and counting the days to March 27, hoping that I will run well,” said Quyết who finished second in amateur pool last season. “And of course I keep my eyes on the top podium.”
The Tiền Phong Marathon is also an important preparation for the SEA Games in Hà Nội in mid-May.
Although representing Việt Nam is a great honour, Quyết is not just there to make up the numbers.
“I definitely want to be SEA Games’ (amateur) champion”.
In the future, he wants to run around the world, at marathons in Boston, London and Tokyo.
But first he knows he must get even better.
“With my current time, I have already qualified for these marathons,” he said.
“However, I want to run faster. The first milestone I want is 2:35.00 next year and then I will be ready for big competitions.
“Hope that I will soon get the chance to stand on the start line in Boston.” — VNS