NAYPYITAW: Outside the pool, Nguyen Thi Anh Vien could easily be mistaken for a model because of her height.
But the lanky Anh Vien isn’t.
And she showed that she’s not just a pretty face by becoming Vietnam’s first female swimming gold medallist with a new SEA Games record at the Wunna Theikdi Aquatic Centre on Thursday.
The 17-year-old Anh Vien, who stands at 1.72m tall, handed Vietnam double cheer by bagging golds in the women’s 200m individual medley and 200m backstroke.
The teenager was delighted to finally climb on top of the podium after taking two silver medals in the 200m backstroke and the 400m individual medley at the last SEA Games in Indonesia two years ago.
|Nguyen Thi Anh Vien bagged golds in the women’s 200m individual medley and 200m backstroke, becoming Vietnam’s first female swimming gold medallist at the SEA Games|
“I’ve never won at the SEA Games before ... this is a happy moment for me, to be the first in Vietnam. I know my timings were good for the gold medal but I didn’t know about strength of the other competitors,” said Anh Vien, who is targeted for the 100m backstroke title as well.
Anh Vien is seen as the great hope for Vietnamese swimming due to her height and long arm span.
She became the first Vietnamese swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games in London last year.
She first showed her potential when she clinched five gold medals at the South-East Asian Swimming Championships in Singapore last year – at the age of just 16.
Her potential convinced the Vietnamese sports administrators to send her to train with Florida’s Saint Augustine Swim Team under a special funding programme for elite sportsmen and women.
Anh Vien repaid their faith by bagging three gold medals – 50m and 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley – and one silver – 100m backstroke – at Asian Youth Games in Nanjing in August.
“My goals are to do well at the Incheon Asian Games next year and, after that, the 2016 Olympics in Rio,” said Anh Vien, who started swimming at the age of four.
Her grandfather taught her to swim as he was afraid that Anh Vien would drown in the deep channel at the front of her house.
It was all worth the effort as Anh Vien could now turn out to be the swimming star of the Myanmar Games when competition ends on Monday.