Runner Hung eyeing SEA Games medal with launch of duathlon event

Runner Nguyen Tien Hung is very proud to be part of Vietnam national duathlon (run-bike-run) team for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines, where the event returns for the first time since Thailand 2007.

Nguyen Tien Hung wins Vietnam's biggest mountain race in Sa Pa
Another Vietnamese win Vietnam Mountain Marathon

Runner Hung eyeing SEA Games medal with launch of duathlon event
Nguyen Tien Hung (right) won the 100km in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2019. He is called to the national duathlon team to compete at the upcoming SEA Games. Photo

“Previously, I only ran. In June, I started to train for the triathlon (swim-bike-run). As I didn’t swim well, I only focused on run-bike-run. Following a month of training, I registered to compete in the IPP Group Challenge Vietnam in Nha Trang in July and gained a good result. After that, I knew the Vietnam Athletics Federation was recruiting athletes to compete in duathlon and triathlon for the SEA Games so I tested and luckily qualified,” said Hung.

“I am very honoured to wear the national team jersey, although it may be the only time in my life. It is very sacred and something I never thought I would achieve. I still can’t believe I am in the national team,” Hung added.

Hung, 35, is considered the best amateur runner in the country. The native of northern province of Phu Tho won Vietnam’s biggest mountain race, the Vietnam Mountain Marathon (VMM), in Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai this year in a time of 14:33.45. He broke his own record from the previous year (14:45:44) and became the first runner to win two consecutive VMM 100km races.

Besides the joy of being called to the national team, Hung is very happy he is one of two Vietnamese runners qualified for the Boston Marathon 2020 in the US, the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the world’s best-known road racing events, in the men’s age group of 35- 39.

Hung will represent Vietnam at the November 30-December 11 SEA Games alongside athletes Cao Ngoc Ha and Nguyen Thi Phuong Trinh in duathlon.

The athletes will take part in a 10km run, then 40km bike ride and finish with a 5km run. Hung has borrowed his friend's bike to train.

“Every week, I came to Tuan Chau in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province three times to train. I have a friend here. He lent me his bike. In Tuan Chau, it's easier to train than in Hanoi as it isn’t too crowded,” said Hung.

To prepare for the Games, Hung and his teammates tested their skills in the Clark Duathlon Championships in the Philippines on October 13 in which Hung finished ninth out of more than 400 athletes.

Besides the Clark event, Hung said he used domestic events to prepare for the Games and his goal of earning a historic medal for Vietnam.

“I will take the VPBank Hanoi Marathon 2019 on October 20 as my last test for the regional event. I was the first runner-up in the 42km in the last year’s VPBank Hanoi Marathon. However, because of the target of SEA Games this year, I will only compete in the shorter distance. My goal in the Philippines is to take a medal. Any medal is noble,” said Hung.

“Athletes of the hosts and Singapore are professional. They train abroad regularly. They are not only strong in the region but also in Asia. However, if I train well, I believe I can get a medal,” said Hung.

According to Hung, an amateur runner like him being called to the national team is encouragement for other amateurs.

“Everybody often sees possible and impossible things. For me, I thought I didn’t have a chance to be part of the national team. I think that my story can inspire many people,” said Hung.


Hung works for a company in Phu Tho Province, producing fireworks. He handles a lot of chemical substances, so the work can be dangerous.

“I am lucky enough to play sport regularly so it helps me get rid of the toxins from my body. I work from 6am to 1pm so I have time for my hobby,” said Hung.

Runner Hung eyeing SEA Games medal with launch of duathlon event
Nguyen Tien Hung (left) seen in a recent marathon in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Tien Hung

Duong Duc Thuy, head of athletics section of the National Sports Administration, said Hung is a energetic athlete.

“Hung has good skills and physical strength. His skills have been showed by his results in the most severe marathons in the country. I hope with his hard training, he will get a high achievement at the upcoming Games,” said Thuy.

Vietnam will compete in duathlon and triathlon in the SEA Games for the first time, with most of the entrants amateur athletes.

According to Tran Duc Phan, deputy head of the National Sports Administration, in recent years, the triathlon scene in Vietnam has developed fast. For example, the number of Vietnamese entrants to the Ironman 70.3 Da Nang has increased 20 times in the last five recent years.

“With the above active development, the National Sports Administration asked the Vietnam Athletics Federation to inspect and evaluate to establish the duathlon and triathlon team to take part in the SEA Games. The best athletes were selected through domestic and international events. The whole expenses for these teams will be sponsored by individuals and non-State companies,” said Phan.

“This is a basis for Vietnam as hosts of the SEA Games 31 in 2021 to put these two sports into the competition programme,” Phan added.

The triathlon team has five players including Lam Quang Nhat, Le Hoang Vu, Pham Thuy Vi.

“Vietnamese triathlon and duathlon athletes are highly qualified persons who are working in Vietnam and abroad. Some of them are managers of big enterprises. Being members of the national team is a proud for themselves and for their companies. This is a wonderful chance for triathlon and duathlon movement to develop strongly in Vietnam,” said Phan.

Ngoc Ha, 37, is a director of a company in Hanoi. He is a leading marathon runner in Vietnam and was the runner-up in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2017 in 100km.

While Vu also has an important position for a foreign fund management company in HCM City. He has competed in more than 10 domestic and international events and qualified for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 2019 in Nice, France last month. VNS

Thanh Nga

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