Vietnamese gymnasts eye chance of Olympic glory

By Xuan Binh   July 16, 2021 | 08:15 am GMT+7
Le Thanh Tung and Dinh Phuong Thanh might set new records for Vietnamese gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics, should they make it to the final.
Le Thanh Tung wins a gold medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha, Qatar 2017. Photo courtesy of International Gymnastics Federation.

Le Thanh Tung wins a gold medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha, Qatar 2017. Photo courtesy of the International Gymnastics Federation.

Since Vietnamese gymnastics started its regular Olympic appearance in 2008, no athlete has made it past the qualification stage. The best result a Vietnamese gymnast could achieve was Phan Thi Ha Thanh’s 12th qualification spot at Olympics 2012. Only the top eight qualifiers can advance to the final.

Making it to the final will be considered a success for Thanh and Tung at this year’s Olympics, while getting a medal will be extremely hard.

"If the two athletes can perform well during qualifiers, they could advance. But they have to do so well, because their opponents are world-class," said national gymnastic team coach Truong Minh Sang.

Tung and Thanh will both compete in the men’s all-around (both team and individual) event, though they will place their hopes on other categories.

In 2019, Tung qualified for the Olympics thanks to his result at the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, Germany, where he competed in the men’s vault and scored 14,633 points. His career-best so far was 14,733 points, achieved in 2017.

In the men’s vault category at Olympics 2016, the last athlete to advance to the final was Chilean Tomas Gonzalez with 15,149 points. Tung needs to raise the bar higher if his aim is the final.

The level of difficulty in the men’s vault is on a scale of 10. All gymnasts that advanced to the Olympics 2016 final reached a difficulty level of 6.0 at least once. Tung’s difficulty level stood at 2019 and was 5.2 and 5.6.

Dinh Phuong Thanh competes in SEA Games 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

Dinh Phuong Thanh competes in SEA Games 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

Thanh’s chance at the men’s parallel bar is similar. His most recent result was in February 2020 when he won the bronze medal with 14,933 points at Gymnastics World Cup in Australia.

In the man’s parallel bar at Olympics 2016, the last gymnast to advance to the final was Romanian Andrei Muntean with 15,466 points.

The difficulty level Thanh achieved in 2020 was around 6.2 to 6.4, while Muntean reached 6.6 in 2016.

Both Thanh and Tung need to up their performances and complete flawlessly to achieve high scores.

"The goal of Vietnamese gymnastics is the final," Sang said.

Olympic gymnastics will begin on July 24. The final for the men’s vault will occur on Aug. 8, a day prior to the men’s parallel bar.

 
 
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