The wait is over for Olympic glory, with Vietnam’s Hoang Xuan Vinh shooting to the top of the podium in Rio last month. Words by Harry Hodge
A Vietnamese shooting star has struck gold, literally and figuratively.
Hoang Xuan Vinh, a 41-year-old serving army colonel who first learnt to shoot with an AK47 rifle, made national history in Rio when a near-perfect final shot in the men’s 10-metre air pistol clinched him gold, the first Olympic title for any Vietnamese athlete ever in any sport.
Vinh’s victory swept aside Brazil’s Felipe Almeida Wu and China’s Pang Wei into second and third respectively, something that was seized on by overjoyed Vietnamese fans.
He followed that up by winning silver behind South Korea’s Jin Jong-oh in the Olympic men’s 50-metre pistol event four days later, becoming the first Vietnamese athlete in history to win multiple Olympic medals, capping a huge week.
Vinh has won many medals in tournaments in the country and in the SEA Games as well as Asian and world events. But losing out on medals in the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014 and the London Olympics in 2012, where he was 0.1 points off the podium at one point, all made him a dark horse to grab a medal in Rio.
Vietnamese state media reported that Vinh would receive US$100,000 (VND2.2 billion) from the state on his return. Media outlets said he learnt how to shoot in the military which he joined in 1991, initially practicing on AK47 rifles. His feat is all the more remarkable considering the lack of resources Vietnamese shooters face, often having do without ammunition in training sessions.
It stands to reason he will cash in more than any Vietnamese amateur athlete has in the past.
Prior to the Games, swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien was splashed across Vietnam Airlines ads among other endorsements. The 20-year-old from Can Tho failed to advance beyond the heats in her various events.
Shooter Vinh has already singlehandedly produced as many medals for Vietnam as the last two Games combined, where Vietnam bagged two in Beijing in 2008 and came back empty-handed from London.
The title of Olympic champion is among the most revered in sports, joining legends such as American Michael Phelps and Jamaican Usain Bolt.
Vietnam competed in multiple disciplines in Rio, including shooting, badminton, swimming, gymnastics, weightlifting, judo, wrestling, fencing, rowing and athletics. With more Vietnamese athletes getting opportunities to train abroad and focus full-time on their sports, officials hope medal hauls will be even bigger in the future.
Hai Phong ends five-year drought against Hanoi T&T
Hai Phong ended their losing record against Hanoi T&T with a win last month in the V.League’s round 20 on their home turf at Lach Tray Stadium, writes Vietnam News.
Hai Phong had not beaten Hanoi T&T in the last five years. They came from behind to record a 2-1 victory, with two goals by Nguyen Dinh Bao and Le Xuan Hung in the second half.
Hoang Vu Samson opened the score for the visitors on the 30th minute with a straight shot.
Hai Phong stands strongly on top of the league with 45 points, five more than Hanoi T&T and six more than third-placed SHB Da Nang, who unexpectedly lost 3-4 to Quang Nam, despite playing at home.
Controversial end for women’s soccer
Thailand’s female football team emerged victorious from the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship after a controversial penalty shootout against their Vietnamese opponents last month, writes Tuoi Tre.
Women from the Vietnamese and Thai national football teams battled it out in the finals of the Southeast Asian football tournament in Mandalay, Myanmar.
The official 90 minutes ended in a 1-1 draw, followed by a goalless extra time that led to a penalty shootout to determine the winning team.
Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Thi Lieu from Vietnam stepped up with the score at 3-3 hoping to help her team snatch the gold medal.
Lieu’s strike was partially blocked by Thai goalie Waraporn Boonsing, causing the ball to spin, drop, and roll its way towards the goal line before being hacked away by the goalkeeper.
Assuming the ball had crossed the goal line, Lieu, along with her teammates and coaches stormed the field to celebrate their victory before an interjection by the assisting referees. Thailand went on to win the match.
Vietnamese mixed martial artist locks up win in Malaysia
Mixed martial artist Tran Quang Loc won the Mixed Martial Arts’s Grand Prix Warriors FC recently in Malaysia, according to vietnamnet.vn.
Loc, who is the first Vietnamese competing in an international MMA event, knocked out Farid Arif of Malaysia in the final match of the featherweight category.
The 27-year-old from Dong Nai Province earlier defeated Shareh Nasrullah, another Malaysian, while Arif beat Nursultan Amangeldiev of Kazakhstan.
Loc started competing in MMA four years ago and has dominated in the national championship for the past three years.
Vietnamese tennis star drops dramatic match on home turf
Ly Hoang Nam was outsted from the Vietnam F3 Men’s Futures tennis tournament last month in Binh Duong Province, writes Vietnam News.
The host athlete lost 6-7, 5-7 to Japanese Ito Yuichi who ranks No. 813 in the world, 49 places higher than Nam, in the second round.
Nam took the first break point of the first set but Ito worked hard and won the crucial game when 5-6 down, bringing the set to the tie break where he successfully won 7-3.
The second set was nearly the same but Ito went up in the decisive moments to take it 7-5.