Hanoi (VNS/VNA) – Hoang Thi Duyen won the first international medal of the year for Vietnamese athletes by finishing third at the Asian Weightlifting Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on April 19.
Southeast Asian Games champion Duyen competed in the women’s 59kg category with heavy pressure after her teammates struggled.
Three-time World Cup winner Thach Kim Tuan lifted 128kg in the men’s 61kg snatch event but he failed in all three attempts in the clean & jerk, meaning he did not come close to a medal.
Meanwhile, Vuong Thi Huyen could only place fifth in the women’s 49kg with a total lift of 177kg (78kg snatch and 99kg clean & jerk). The result was 6kg less than Huyen’s personal best.
Their failure was attributed to their switch of weight classes. Tuan moved up from 56kg to 61kg while SEA Games gold medalist Huyen went from 45kg to 49kg.
Duyen was the last Vietnamese hope to win a continental medal.
The 24-year-old, who won three World Cup titles last January, did not falter.
She lifted 100kg in the snatch and 116kg in the clean & jerk. Her total of 216kg brought her a bronze.
The gold went to Kou Hsing-chun of Chinese Taipei with 247kg and Lou Xiaomin of China took silver with a 227kg lift.
It was a big statement from the Giay ethnic minority athlete who finished ninth at the 2019 championship.
The medal will improve her world ranking from her current seventh position and give her a better chance of competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
“At present, Tuan, world No 5, and Duyen are in the safe zone to qualify for the July Games, according to IWF rules which will select the best eight of each category as Olympic participants,” said coach Do Dinh Khang
Huyen is at No 12 and approaching the qualified group. But China have three lifters and the US have two ranked higher than Huyen while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Ri Song Gum, who is No 3, has withdrawn. As the IWF allows each country to send only one representative to the Olympics, Huyen is temporally in the top eight.
Athletes still have a chance to improve their positions at the Pan-American and African championships in May.
However, Vietnam are still waiting for a fine from the International Weightlifting Federation after doping scandals relating to four other athletes since 2019.
IWF rules state that any country with three or more doping cases during Olympics qualification starting from November 2018 may lose their Olympic slots or even be banned.
Coach Khang said the final decision would come in May and hopefully Vietnam would be approved for one slot./.