Despite few opportunities to hone their skills in 2020, Vietnamese professional athletes are yearning for a thriving year with a set of ambitious targets in 2021.
“There were times I thought I would never be allowed to return to the swimming pool, and I would have to give up my sporting career,” said swimmer Nguyen Huu Kim Son, 18, from Ho Chi Minh City.
Son’s fear came as the central city of Da Nang, the locality the swimming prodigy is competing for, went into social distancing for COVID-19 prevention and control between late July and late August when the beach city reported a whopping number of community infections.
Son, together with several other swimmers of Da Nang, could not practice although their training center is only some hundreds of meters away from their dormitory.
It was the first time for Son to not swim every day.
“I can’t stand not swimming every day. Sometimes I feel like an otter, living in water is more familiar than on land,” Son said.
The teenage swimmer was worried that his career would go downhill without practice and competitions.
The long days of practicing on land only ended for Son and his colleagues when Da Nang gradually relaxed social distancing rules late in August.
That was when the city’s swimming team geared up for the National Swimming Championships taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from October 16 to 21, 2020.
Despite having only four weeks to prepare for the competition, Son and his teammates showed an impressive performance at the event.
Son earned one individual gold medal and two teamwork gold medals at the championships.
|Swimmer Nguyen Huu Kim Son (left) and his Da Nang teammates are pictured with their medals at the National Swimming Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, October 2020. Photo: T.P. / Tuoi Tre|
Most importantly, his achievement was similar to his best performance, promising good results in international competitions in the future.
Other swimmers from Da Nang, including Hoang Quy Phuoc and Ngo Dinh Chuyen, also pocketed a handful of gold medals in different categories.
A positive mind
Nguyen Van Duong was proud when he secured a spot at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s featherweight boxing competition, which was set to take place from July 24 to August 9, 2020, but as the Olympics were postponed, he only felt disappointment.
“It’s really disappointing because this is a feat I never thought of a year ago,” Duong said.
Despite that, Duong is still optimistic about his opportunities in 2021, with his keen determination set on the Tokyo Olympics, which have been rescheduled to July 23 - August 2, 2021, and the 2021 Southeast Asian Games that are set for November 21 to December 2, 2021 in Hanoi.
“I think I’m not the only one who faces difficulties during this time, boxers from other countries were also not trained in the ideal environment throughout the past year,” Duong said.
“The most important thing now is that I already won a ticket to the Olympic Games.
"And I’m practicing for it every day."