Update: 14:21 | 17/03/2019
Walker Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuc and her younger brother Nguyen Thanh Ngung will be representing Vietnam at the 2019 Asian Championships 20km Walk in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture on March 17.
National champion Ngung will take part in the men’s event aiming to set a personal best to close in on Olympic qualification. The 26-year-old took part in the 2016 event and recorded a personal best of 1hr 23.29; a national record.
Nguyen Thanh Ngung competes in the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia.
"I have only had one month to prepare for this event. My recent results have been between 1.30hr to 1.33hr, which is around the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal time," said Ngung.
Last year’s winner, Daisuke Matsunaga of Japan, won in a time of 1:20.55. The runners-up were Fumitaka Oikawa (Japan) and Kim Hyunsub (the Republic of Korea), who were around one minute behind.
"I know my ability but I will try to catch up with them," said Ngung, who will not be competing at the SEA Games later this year as the walk has been axed from the competition.
Ngung was one of two Vietnamese athletes who qualified for the Rio Olympics after recording 1:23.29 three years ago, but he is unsure about repeating the feat.
"It is harder for me as well as many other Vietnamese athletes as the International Association of Athletics Federations has just released new qualification standards," he said.
To win a berth to Tokyo in 2020, a male walker must reach 1:21.00 while women must hit 1:31.00.
Meanwhile, Phuc has returned to competition after having a baby.
Phuc is a familiar face at the Asian Championships as she claimed
She was a three-time winner of the SEA Games from 2011-15.
At the Japanese tournament, Phuc will be against powerful rivals from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and India. Last year, Duan Dandan of China triumphed in a time of 1:35.12.