Young Taekwondo athletes in training
Shortly after the Lunar New Year of the Cat, coach Pham Ngoc Thanh, Head of the Provincial Taekwondo Division, and his students started to train for the first national student championship to be held right in Hue, from March 24 to 28 as expected.
According to coach Pham Ngoc Thanh, this is one of the big tournaments covering about 1,000 athletes, and also a valuable opportunity for young athletes to experience and improve their skills.
“This championship is held by Vietnam Taekwondo Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training. The championship especially has both movement and advanced systems. Previously, the championship was held by region (the North, Central, and South). This is the first time the championship has been held on a national scale. The home competition will offer a good opportunity for inexperienced athletes to learn," said coach Pham Ngoc Thanh.
Over the past years, Taekwondo was a strong sport in the province and was chosen by Thua Thien Hue as a key sport of group 1 to focus on investment in 2021 - 2025. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic along with many objective and subjective factors, Thua Thien Hue Taekwondo has recently shown signs of slowdown in achievements.
Head of the Provincial Taekwondo Division also acknowledged that in 2022, the division only entered 3 tournaments, and the achievements were not really spectacular. In the national club championship, Hue Taekwondo won only 1 gold. In the youth championship, coach Pham Ngoc Thanh's students only scooped 3 bronzes.
In the hope of a gold at the National Sports Games, unfortunately, Taekwondo Ancient Capital only clinched 1 individual bronze and 1 team bronze.
Taekwondo athletes doing physical exercises
Back in history, Taekwondo once gratified the hearts of fans with a series of achievements. In 2016, at the National Youth Taekwondo Championship, Thua Thien Hue Taekwondo team featured 15 athletes and won 8 medals (1 gold, 1 silver, and 6 bronzes). With a gold in the women's 63kg weight category, athlete Do Thi Thanh Ngan entered the list of athletes competing in the World Young Taekwondo Championship.
Next, Taekwondo Thua Thien Hue continued to make many impressions. In 2017, it won 2 golds at the Southeast Asian Championship; 7 golds, 9 silvers, and 16 bronzes at the national youth tournament, the national cup tournament, and the national championship. It was also awarded the third-ranking flag in the entire delegation in female fighting at the national cup tournament.
At the 2018 Southeast Asian Open, Taekwondo Thua Thien Hue won 1 gold. Also this year, Taekwondo Thua Thien Hue gained 9 more golds, 6 silvers, and 12 bronzes. In 2019, it kept scooping 4 golds, 8 silvers, and 14 bronzes at the national youth tournament, the national cup tournament, and the national championship.
The past differs from the present because Hue Taekwondo coaches currently have only 6 experienced athletes at the team level, the rest are at the young and talented level. In other words, Taekwondo has worries and is forced to “build" a young force to open up future hopes.
Frankly admitting, Taekwondo Thua Thien Hue has slowed down due to not only the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but also the subjective reasons. According to the coaches, it was the limited training conditions, especially the lack of facilities, and modern means of competition such as electronic armor that partly affected the achievement, training, and competition efficiency of athletes.
Investment difficulties are waiting to be removed by the home province’s sports sector. As for designing the strategies for Thua Thien Hue Taekwondo to make a comeback, the responsibility rests with the training board. The direction of training the next generation from young people is appropriate, but it is needed to have an effective, long-term approach associated with learning from experience in the past stages.
Back to the first national student championship, it is definitely a better opportunity right now for the provincial Taekwondo.
With 20 athletes expected to register for the competition, including 15 young, talented athletes who were recruited for a few years and inexperienced in competition, the study of competition events, creating opportunities to exchange, and learn from experience with a large number of athletes from provinces, cities, and sectors is what coach Pham Ngoc Thanh has to consider for effectiveness.
The target of registering 3 sets of medals this time is probably not the final one; more importantly, what can the athletes learn upon entering the big arenas?
In the longer term, the provincial Taekwondo must also seek many opportunities to experience. It is the regular, continuous, and effective competition plus the investment of agencies and functional units, especially for young people that can offer us further expectations in terms of time and both achievements.
Story and photos: Minh Tam