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Taekwondo performers target golds at SEA Games

The Vietnamese taekwondo team failed to hit its targets at the last two Southeast Asian Games, but the team is ready to shine again at this year's Games in the Philippines.

This year, Vietnam has set a target of winning three golds, one in kyorugi (combat) and two in the poomsae (performance) categories.

There are 14 weight categories for both men and women in kyorugi, but each country can only take part in 10.

With the absence of world silver medalist Truong Thi Kim Tuyen who is set to compete in an Olympic qualifier in Russia, the 10-member team is relying on former champion Pham Thi Thu Hien, who won the title in 2013 in Myanmar, and took silver at last Games in Malaysia.

“There are 10 categories but Hien is our best bet in the 62kg category. Our other female athletes are not as strong as Thailand,” said coach Le Huynh Chau.

“The Thais and the hosts are also powerful in the male categories while our fighters are still young and lack experience,” he said.

There will be eight poomsae events, with each team competing in six.

Chau Tuyet Van said she was excited about the mixed team’s freestyle event, a new addition at the SEA Games

“I have been training and competing for the last seven years and have won regional, continental and world titles,” said Van, who won gold at the last Games in the women’s team event.

“I think the Philippines will be our main challenge. However, we have beaten them away at the Southeast Asian Championships. I believe my experience and hard work with my young teammates will help us to win gold,” said the three-time SEA Games winner.

The other title the team is targeting is in the women’s freestyle team event, who just won gold at the World Cup in August.

“Thailand are good in the poomsae event, but we are strong in freestyle and we have dominated at most international competitions. I think our two biggest rivals are Thailand and the hosts, who just revealed they plan to win five out of eight titles,” said coach Nguyen Thanh Huy.

“In poomsae, the judges give points for the athletes, but their decisions are sometimes biased. Many competitors from Viet Nam and elsewhere were disappointed by decisions in previous Games. We have to compete well and perfect our performances,” he said.

Taekwondo will be held from December 7-9 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.