HA NOI - Vietnamese fencers are aiming to win the first gold medals for the Viet Nam sports delegation at the coming 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore next month.
They will be competing on June 3 before the event's opening ceremony kicks off on June 5.
"At the Singapore Games, fencing is one of the sports to be played the earliest. With careful preparation, we hope the Vietnamese fencers will gain four to five gold medals," Phung Le Quang, head of fencing section of the National Sports Administration said.
Nguyen Tien Nhat, who won a bronze medal in the men's individual epee in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea last year, is expected to win a gold medal in the same discipline at the regional Games, Quang said.
Nhat, 25, won a berth to compete at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
"Nhat's strong rival will be Lim Wei Wen, 30, from the host team, who also bagged a bronze in the Asian Games last year. With the advantage of youth, Nhat will try his best to seek gold," Quang said.
However, Nhat and his teammates will have to challenge themselves with strong rivals from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to reach their target.
In preparation for the Games, the epee team and the sabre team has trained in South Korea, while the foil team has practiced in China.
"In South Korea, there are many world class athletes, so we have the chance to gain experience and sharpen our skills. I am 30 years old now, and these Games may be my last," Nguyen Thi Le Dung said. "I will exert myself to gain the best results."
Dung, who took up the Olympic sport at the age of 16, is the most experienced and skilful of the Vietnamese women fencers who will be taking part at the Games.
Dung said she was eager to seize her opportunity in the women's individual sabre discipline that was not included at the 2009 Games in Laos and 2013 Games in Myanmar.
At the 2011 Games in Indonesia, Vietnamese women fencers won five gold medals thanks to Dung (individual sabre), Nguyen Thi Tuoi (individual foil), Tran Thi Len (individual epee), foil team and epee team.
Viet Nam will send 24 fencers who will be competing for 12 medal sets in the men's and women's individual and team sabre, foil and epee events in Singapore.
Viet Nam set a target to remain in the top three in the medal tally of the sporting festival, which is organised every two years.