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Comprehensive reform required for Vietnam’s sports industry

by NDO04 August 2021 Last updated at 20:00 PM

Vietnamese taekwondo artist Truong Thi Kim Tuyen (in red) competes in the women's -49kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Vietnamese taekwondo artist Truong Thi Kim Tuyen (in red) competes in the women's -49kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

VTV.vn - Limited funding, overdiversified investment, lack of experts (training, nutrition, health care) and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have been deemed as the main objective and subjective reasons for Vietnam’s failure in bringing home a me

Weightlifter Hoang Thi Duyen entered the Tokyo 2020 competition as the country’s top medal prospect, but then disappointed with a fifth-place finish in the women’s 59kg category. According to experts, Duyen’s injury prevented her from living up to expectations. The 25-year-old had just recovered from knee pain and could not deliver her best during the Games

For the freshly recovered athletes, when their muscles work to the limit, responses will occur for self-protection. Also, the psychology of being newly recovered, as well as the significant pressure of large competitions, will cause negative impacts and directly affect their performances. If she had received adequate treatment and fully rehabilitated before commencing her Olympic campaign, Duyen’s performance at Tokyo 2020 would have possibly seen improvement. In addition, Vietnamese weightlifters have not received training from foreign experts during the past year for many reasons, such as being yet to find suitable experts, a lack of funding to hire competent trainers, and not achieving agreement at work with experts.

Meanwhile, looking at other ASEAN countries like the Philippines, alongside the personal efforts of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, it can be seen that the effective support from a system of four trainers in charge of profession, nutrition, health care and psychology had inspired her towards claiming the historic 55kg gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. If there were such a good training and support system, weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan could have returned home with a much better result, rather than finishing just eighth out of nine competitors in the men’s 61kg Group A. Together with the lack of both health and nutrition specialists, the outbreak of COVID-19 made it impossible for the Vietnamese teams to train and compete overseas, thus significantly affecting their form.

Weightlifter Thach Kim Tuan delivers a below-par performance in the men's 61kg event at Tokyo 2020.

After winning a historic gold in shooting at the 2016 Rio Olympics, marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh could no longer maintain his top form because of psychological pressure. The veteran shooter was even not sent for the Olympic selection tournaments due to his poor performance compared to other teammates. Therefore, when he still participated in Tokyo 2020 by an invitation slot and fell short of expectations, controversy emerged about why the chance was not given to younger talents so that they could gain experience towards the future.

It seems that the investment in young talents of Vietnamese sports has far been adequate due to limited funding and overdiversification. It was reported that in order to prepare for the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be hosted by Vietnam (originally scheduled for late 2021, but now rescheduled for 2022), the sports sector had called up more than 1,000 athletes since the beginning of the year, rather than focusing on those with the potential to win medals at Tokyo 2020.

After Olympic participations with both successes and failures, the competent figures of the Vietnamese sports industry should now review and analyse the performances of the national contingent in Tokyo in order to draw accurate conclusions, thereby making strategic, methodical and scientific changes to elevate Vietnamese sports, not just at the SEA Games but also at the Asian Games, world championships and Olympic Games.

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