Nation’s boxers prep for alchemy at Games
HA NOI — Viet Nam’s boxers hope to perform alchemy and change their five bronze medals into gold at the upcoming 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines.
The country expects to face tough opposition from both Thailand and the Philippines, which have developed very talented players and raised the profile of the sport in recent years.
The Philippines have Joan Tipon, the 54kg world champion, and his team-mate, who won silver in the world championship 57kg class last year. Thailand has Manus Boonjumnong, who competed in 64kg bouts at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and Pichai Sayotha and Somjit Jongohor, who were world championship gold medallists in the 60kg and 51kg weight categories.
At a regional competition last month in HCM City, the Filipino team took home two gold medals and one bronze to win the event. Thailand came second, with one gold and one bronze. They expect to take between five and seven boxing gold medals in eight weight categories at the SEA Games.
Viet Nam meanwhile has high hopes for national champion Nguyen Trung Kien in the 57kg category. Kien reflects the great progress he has made recently, and the fighter has demonstrated improved technique and confidence in every match. If he can get through qualifying rounds without facing Thai or Filipino opponents, he is believed to have a very good chance of taking a silver or gold medal.
Nguyen The Hai is another of Viet Nam’s brightest boxing hopes. The 23-year-old Hanoian has been boxing since 1999, and was selected for long-term training in China. He won gold at the Viet Nam International Boxing Open in 2003 and again in September, a gold in the Southeast Asian Boxing Championships, and several others at events throughout China.
The national boxing team recently finished a one-month training camp in Thailand. Coach Nguyen Dinh Nghia said the intensive training gave his young boxers fresh experience, better tactics and improved technical skills. More importantly, he said, the fighters feel confident about stepping into the ring and facing some of Asia’s finest boxers.
Viet Nam’s fledgling boxing organisation has made great strides since its inception just three years ago, earning one gold and seven bronzes at the Asian Junior Boxing Tournament , two golds at the Asian Boxing Championships and the championship title at the last Southeast Asian tournament.
At the 23rd SEA Games, contenders will box in seven weight categories, ranging from 48kg to 75kg. The events are scheduled from November 28 to December 3 in Bacolod City, the Philippines. — VNS
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