While other countries would expect their world-class sports professionals to only focus on competing at higher-level tournaments, Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training poised the nation’s medal hopefuls to compete in many events of a sporting festival for students in Myanmar.
A group of Vietnam’s top athletes, who are the most hopeful contenders in the national team, is being tested at the ongoing 2018 ASEAN University Games, which takes place in Naypyidaw – the capital city of Myanmar – from December 10 to 20.
The ASEAN University Games (AUG) is a biennial sports event that involves athletes from the universities of the ASEAN member countries, organized by the members of the ASEAN University Sports Council (AUSC).
This is the first time Myanmar has hosted the ASEAN University Games, which is in its 19th edition this year with the participation of 11 nations in 17 events.
Vietnam’s student delegation to the 2018 AUG consists of 61 members competing in five sports.
With many people raising their eyebrows, the delegation’s athletics team includes Vietnam’s Asian and Southeast Asian medalists Nguyen Thi Oanh, Quach Thi Lan – a favorite in women’s 400m and 400m hurdles at AUG – and Duong Van Thai – a favorite in men’s 1,500m and 800m events at AUG.
Oanh, Lan, Thai and their other national teammates including Quach Cong Lich and Vu Thi Ly contributed to the no-sweat 11 gold medals, four silver medals and two bronze medals that put the Vietnamese athletics team on top of the sport’s table at the ongoing AUG.
These athletes come to the 2018 AUG as representatives of their universities, as ordered by the Ministry of Education and Training.
In fact, the education ministry is using a handful of cannons to kill a mosquito, which was criticized by Duong Duc Thuy, head of the athletics department under the General Department of Sports and Physical Training.
“The ASEAN University Games is a tournament with no professional significance to national athletes,” Thuy said.
“In addition, national athletes are mostly discovered by the athletics department and trained at a young age, so it is unacceptable to let them attend [amateur] sports events for students,” the athletics leader said.
There is no country sending its key athletes, who competed at the recent 2018 Asian Games in September and SEA (Southeast Asian) Games, to such a student sports festival, according to Thuy.
“In 2018, the athletes have had a tight schedule. In 2019, they will also have to prepare for the [upcoming] SEA Games and the 2020 Olympic Qualifying Tournaments,” he complained.
This is not the first time the Ministry of Education and Training has recruited national athletes for sports festivals for regional and global students.