26th SEA Games 2011 Palembang Jakarta Indonesia 11-22 November 2011
DOHA (QAT) AGU Office November 18, 2011: HA NOI — It has been 14 years since their first gold medal at the SEA Games, but now Viet Nam have become No 1 in regional gymnastics, their gymnasts become SEA Games kings and queens.
The Vietnamese athletes triumphed in 11 out of 14 events in Indonesia, an astounding success that no-one could have predicted before the start of the tournament.
Phan Thi Ha Thanh, 20, helped herself to three gold medals in two days, having grabbed her first in the women’s all-round event after a great performance that impressed the judges.
The Hai Phong City-born girl, who surprised the world with a bronze medal at the World Gymnastics Championships last month, had no difficulty repeating her performance in the vault event before taking the floor title too.
Meanwhile veteran Do Thi Ngan Thuong made a great comeback with two golds in the uneven bars and the beam.
Thuong surprised athletes and coaches by returning to competition following a two year doping ban five months ago.
Thuong had expected to do well on the uneven bars, but the experienced gymnast outdid the competition for her second title on the beam.
“I know that I am not at my peak so I just tried in every event,” said Thuong, who has a total of seven gold medals from four SEA Games.
“The all-around gold from the 23rd Games is the one that makes me most proud but these two I will remember most because it might be the last Games of career,” she said.
“I was really amazed with what the Vietnamese have done. That was only Ha Thanh and Ngan Thuong while the rest were injured. If they had a full squad, they might have won everything,” Indonesian coach Eva Butarbutar was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post newspaper.
“I was most impressed by Ha Thanh who grabbed three golds. She is the new queen of gymnastics in Southeast Asia,” she said.
On the men’s side, people previously just knew about Truong Minh Sang who won titles for Viet Nam in the past.
At this Games, Viet Nam fielded a series of successful athletes such as Hoang Cuong on the floor, Dang Nam on the rings, Nguyen Tuan Dat on the vault, Nguyen Ha Thanh on the parallel bars and Pham Phuoc Hung on the high bar. The men also won a gold medal in the team event in the first day of competition on November 11.
“Palembang’s 11 golds were a sweet shock to the whole team. My team have reaped the rewards of their hard years of training. We are proud that we have played a key role in Viet Nam’s success at this SEA Games,” said Nguyen Thi Kim Lan, head of the Gymnastics Department of the National Sports Administration.
“People at the Jakabaring [gymnasium] could not believe it. They strongly pushed Viet Nam sport with 11 golds. Their exploits made them new kings and queens,” Indonesia’s Kompas newspaper commented. — VNS
About Phan Tha Hà Thanh
born 16th October 1991, (Phan is a family name) is a Vietnamese artistic gymnast from Hai Phong. In 2011 she became the first gymnast to win a world medal for Vietnam, winning the Bronze medal on Vault at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan
In 2009 she made her international debut competing in the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in London, England. She did not score high enough to qualify for any of the competitions.
In 2010 she competed in the Asian Games for Vietnam, competing in the Team and Vault event where she finished in 5th place. She won a Silver Medal on Vault and on Balance Beam in the 2010 World Cup in Porto.
In 2011 she won the Bronze medal on Vault at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. This qualified her as an individual gymnast to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.