Sports

Table tennis athletes to hunt Olympics tickets

Vietnamese table tennis athletes will take part in the Olympic Asian qualification in Thailand in May, hoping to earn the chance to compete at the Paris Games in July.

Table tennis

332934 tu 1 | FDI Việt Nam
Nguyễn Anh Tú aims to perform his best toward earning an Olympic place at the Asian qualification in May in Thailand. VNA/

Theo Vietnamnews

Photos

HÀ NỘI Vietnamese table tennis athletes hope to return to the Olympics again after 15 years of absence.

The Paris Games’ Asian zonal qualification will be held in Bangkok, Thailand in May and as many as 21 qualified singles slots, 11 male and 10 female, will be claimed by successful athletes.

Earlier, the Việt Nam Table Tennis Federation (VTTF) announced that Viêt Nam would not take part in the Thailand event.

The main reason was that players’ poor ability would not help them earn a chance to win.

Previously, there was a qualification organised for Southeast Asia. Việt Nam was among the top teams and earned an official Olympic place in 2004 and 2008.

“When the International Table Tennis Federation deleted the ASEAN zonal qualification, Vietnamese table tennis players could not reach the Olympic competition,” said Nguyễn Quốc Hùng of the Sports Authority of Việt Nam’s Table Tennis Department.

“Vietnamese athletes also disappeared in the world ranking table because they rarely took part in international competitions. It meant that earning an Olympic place as world high ranking athlete was impossible.

“In the Asian qualification, we also faced big challenges to earn a place because we were in a lower level compared to those from China, Japan and South Korea, among many others.

“These were the reasons we ignored the Thailand qualification,” he said.

However, the sport officials changed their decision.

“In my opinion, even if there are no or very few opportunities, it is still necessary to participate in the event to improve athletes’ quality, affirming the presence of Vietnamese table tennis on the world. We also hope players can stage a surprise and bring home an Olympic place,” Hùng said.

332935 tu1 | FDI Việt Nam
Nguyễn Khoa Diệu Khánh will have her first chance to vie for an Olympic place in May.

Four of the best athletes are called to prepare for this high target.

Among them, Mai Hoàng Mỹ Trang is defending champion of the national championship and National Sports Games, and Nguyễn Khoa Diệu Khánh is the reigning champion of the National Top Stars Table Tennis Tournament.

On the men’s side, Nguyễn Anh Tú is the 32nd SEA Games silver medallist and the national champion. His teammate Đinh Anh Hoàng is second-place finisher of the national championship and the top star tournament. He is also 32nd SEA Games champion in the mixed doubles event.

The quartet is under coach Đoàn Kiến Quốc who represented Việt Nam at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

“The Asian qualification will feature many strong players so the games will be very fierce,” Tú said.

“It will be my first time taking part in such tough event. I have been practising intensively and will show my full potential there.”

Tú and teammates will undergo an intensive one-month training course in Nanning, China, starting from April, as part of their Olympic plan.

Phan Anh Tuấn, general secretary of the VTTF, said the China camp would help his players gain confidence in their ability and be ready for the Olympic qualifier which will be from May 23-25 in Pattaya.

In addition to the target of winning a slot in Paris, his athletes will also sharpen their technique for further events such as the Southeast Asian and Asian championships and the Asian Cup in 2024.

In Paris, a total of 172 athletes, 70 in singles events, will participate in the table tennis competition taking place from July 27 to August 10 at the South Paris Arena.

Theo Vietnamnews