Vien the SEA Games threat

SINGAPORE - The most telling factor about Nguyen Thi Anh Vien's nine gold medals and nine meet records is that not one of her times was a personal best.

Having qualified for the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, Vien, 17, will become the first Vietnamese to swim at the prestigious event.

After her latest success here, she can count Singapore national coach Ian Turner as one of those who is impressed by her.

Turner said: "There is no doubt she is going to be a serious threat at the SEA Games next year. Her performances have provided warning signs for us and for all the other South-east Asian nations."

Vien already has an impressive list of achievements. She participated in the 2012 London Olympics, won three golds at last year's Asian Youth Games and three golds at the SEA Games in Naypyidaw.

The 1.73m-tall swimmer says she has no special formula for success, as she simply attributes her achievements, in uncomplicated fashion, to "training hard".

She trains twice a day, seven days a week, and covers 10km-12km every day.

Her hard work certainly showed results over the past three days, as she comfortably emerged as the most impressive swimmer at the meet. She participated in 16 races, encompassing backstroke, butterfly, freestyle and individual medley events, with distances ranging from 50m sprints to 800m.

Nur Marina Chan, who touched home ahead of Vien in the 50m and 100m freestyle events, but lost to her in the 200m freestyle, said: "I definitely admire her endurance for taking part in so many events.

"She is my main competitor and she gives me the motivation to push myself and beat her."

Vien, whose favourite event is the backstroke, refuses to look too far into the future, stating that her long-term aim is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Coach Dang Anh Tuan, 44, said: "We hope she will do well and work hard to get medals, but the main thing is that she learns and gains experience.

"We will take it day by day, and try the best we can. We don't know what will happen tomorrow so there are no long-term medal targets set for her."

This article was first published on June 9, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.