May 12, 2023
HÀ NỘI — Lê Khánh Hưng made history as the first Vietnamese athlete to win a golf title in the SEA Games after his victory on Wednesday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The 15-year-old, one of the youngest members of the Việt Nam delegation, scored 13-under par 216 to win the tournament.
His teammate Nguyễn Anh Minh also had impressive performance to win a bronze medal, after losing to Malcolm Ting Siong Hung of Malaysia.
“I cried because I am proud of myself. I am proud because I have made a miracle,” said Hưng.
“I couldn’t sleep last night. I was worried a little this morning so I did not play as well as I wanted. I was shaking at first and also felt not comfortable. I told myself that I needed to calm down, otherwise everything would collapse. I was focused in every swing and did well.
“I am happy because my family is here with me, supporting me every day. They helped to make me more confident,” said the high-school student.
Hưng and teammate Minh will take part in the team event on May 13. However, he said he did not think about the next medal yet but paid attention to best preparation.
Despite a historic gold, coach Nguyễn Thái Dương was not very surprised.
“We have worked with them for years and we know their abilities and the level of Vietnamese golfers compared to the others in the region,” he said.
“We have prepared carefully for the Games and came here early to practise. And I am in no doubt that Hưng is a talented player. Hưng and Minh often defeated players who are much older and experienced than them. Here, Minh led from the beginning to the end.
“This year, all teams showed their better quality but we hope that Vietnamese players can make more surprises in the other categories,” Dương said.
Track and field athletes were highlights of the evening session.
Nguyễn Trung Cường won a gold medal in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, defeating eight other rivals including his teammate-defending champion Lê Tiến Long.
Cường is the first Vietnamese male runner to enjoy victory in this Games.
The 23-year-old was close to a gold medal in the 2019 Games but was beaten by teammate Đỗ Quốc Luật in the last metres.
“I could only wrap up my feeling in two words, amazing and proud,” said Cường.
“My win is for my family and especially my wife who stayed by my side and helped me to stand up when I was in difficulty.”
Earlier, his teammate Huỳnh Thị Mỹ Tiên won her first SEA Games title in the women’s 100m hurdler event.
Tiên finished with a time of 13.50sec, just two hundredths of a second faster than teammate Bùi Thị Nguyên, the reigning champion, to win gold.
Last Games, Tiên also competed but she was not in best condition because she just recovered from the COVID-19. She was one of two last runners to finish the race.
“I can’t believe that I was the winner until I looked to the board. I didn’t think I could win during the race too because all runners are fast,” said Tiên.
“I told myself to try hard so whatever medal I can get is good. When it was near the finish line, I tried to run faster to reach the finish line.”
In martial arts, the pencak silat team ended their campaign with four golds.
After controversies and complaints between the coaching staff of Việt Nam and Indonesia, the organisers upheld the decision to award the gold medal to Nguyễn Hoàng Hồng Ân in the women’s 50-55kg class.
Indonesia protested the result and judges held the decision till evening before officially awarded it to Ân.
Teammates Nguyễn Tấn Sang won gold in the men’s 75-80kg; Quàng Thị Thu Nghĩa topped the women’s 65-70kg and Nguyễn Duy Tuyến in the men’s 80-85kg.
In Kun Khmer, Vietnamese athletes entered seven finals, three of them, all women, won golds.
Huỳnh Hà Hữu Hiếu won the 45kg class after her rival in the final match withdrew.
Tạ Thị Kim Yến won in the 48kg and Bàng Thị Mai took title in the 60kg.
Vietnamese still have chance to win more golds in this martial art as five fighters will compete in the finals on May 11. — VNS