Vietnam puts Olympic hope on star athlete

By Xuan Binh   July 20, 2021 | 06:25 pm PT
Vietnam puts Olympic hope on star athlete
Quach Thi Lan (R) competes in Asian Games 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Binh.
Quach Thi Lan can become the first Vietnamese athlete to advance to the athletics semifinals in Tokyo if she retains her current form.

Of 41 athletes to compete in the women's 400 m hurdles in Olympic Tokyo, Lan is one of the only two Asian athletes. The other is Aminat Jamal from Bahrain. Lan is also the only representative of Vietnamese athletics in Olympic Tokyo 2021, thanks to an invitation slot given to Vietnam by the organizers.

In the history of Vietnamese athletics, the only athlete that got past the heat round at the Olympics was Vu Thi Huong in the women’s 100 m in Olympic Beijing 2008, advancing to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

Athletes in the women's 400 m hurdlers this year will compete for 24 slots in the quarterfinals, with the top eight advancing to the final. While making the finals can be a tough task, a place in the semifinals is within Lan’s reach.

Lan’s most recent result is 55.98 seconds (recorded at the national championship in November 2020), while the result needed to make it past the heat round in Olympic 2016 is 56.61 and to advance to the final is 54.99. Her personal best is 55.30 seconds, achieved in Asian Games 2018 which helped her claim the gold medal. In 2019, Lan became Asia’s champion with 56.10 seconds.

If Lan could break her personal record and finish under 55 seconds, she could even hope for a place in the final. The last time an Asian athlete made it to the Olympic final of the women’s 400 meter hurdles was in 1984, while the last time an Asian athlete advanced to the semifinals was in 2008.

Lan will compete in the women’s 400 m hurdles on July 31.

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