Rowers aim for SEA Games golds in December

Thanh Hà

HÀ NỘI — Some Vietnamese rowers have already qualified for this su妹妹er's Tokyo Olympics, but that doesn't mean they're overlooking the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on home turf this winter.

Their target at the  三 一st SEA Games is six golds after going home titleless two years ago.

"We have made plans since knowing we will host the  三 一st Games. We want to join hands to organise a successful tournament and make rowing an impressive highlight,” said Nguyễn Hải Đường, general secretary of the Việt Nam Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Federation.

Đường said the sport has strongly developed in recent years and rowing now takes place in  一 八 cities and province with more than  三00 athletes, compared to just a few in the beginning in  一 九 九 七.

“In ASEAN, our biggest rivals are Indonesia and Thailand. Indonesia really have potential. They made a deep investment in the sport after hosting the Asian Games in  二0 一 八. Meanwhile, Thailand are a long-time powerhouse with their science and technology in sport,” said Đường.

“As hosts, we expect to be the best rowing team at the Games with at least six golds. We have made plans in detail in which every member of the coaching staff and athlete has their own duty,” he said.

Rowing at the SEA Games will feature eight categories for men and eight for women in Hải Phòng.

Rowers aim for SEA Games golds in December

Zeroes

Rowing first came to Việt Nam in  一 九 九 七 and people started to build it up from nothing.

As one of the first men involved in the sport, Đường spent time driving around to find the right place for the first rowing hub.

In the early days, the rowing team had to work with rudimentary wooden boats and paddles. Ten years later in  二00 二, they had the first chance to touch carbon-made equipment as Việt Nam was to host the  二 二nd SEA Games a year later.

“At that time, it was so difficult that we had to rebuild a four-seat boat from two broken two-seat ones with tape and super glue, to serve our training needs,” Đường recalled.

Rowers aim for SEA Games golds in December

This boat was seen by a world rowing and canoeing federation official who said it showed the world the challenges and obstacles that countries faced in their first days of rowing, he said.

“The other and the biggest difficulty was recruitment. People did not know what rowing was. Our scouts had to go to every corner of the country to not only seek but also persuade people to try rowing. When done, we had to start by teaching them how to step safely into the boat and how to hold the paddle the right way. But luckily, we were all united to develop the sport,” he said.

Since their first training venue at Hà Nội’s West Lake, the team now has two better training locations in Thủy Nguyên District’s Giá River in Hải Phòng and Đồng Xanh Đồng Nghệ Lake in Đà Nẵng.

Heroes

The first success for Vietnamese rowers was when Nguyễn Đăng Tuấn won the Asian Rowing Championship in China in  二00 二.

A year later, Vietnamese athletes made a bang with five golds at the SEA Games that they hosted for the first time.

In  二00 四, Phạm Thị Thi became the first Vietnamese rower to compete in the Olympics in Athens.