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Ánh Viên, Vietnam's Most Decorated Swimmer, Wants to Resign From National Team

Citing a desire to spend more time with her family and a drop in her performance, Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên reportedly reached the decision after returning from the Tokyo Olympics this past summer. 

The 24-year-old is Vietnam's most decorated swimmer with 25 SEA Games golds medals, two bronze medals at Asian Games, appearances in the past three Olympic games and many national records and accolades. 

Zing reported this week that after finishing 26th out of 29 athletes in the 200-meter freestyle and last in the 800-meter event at the Tokyo games with times well below her best, she sent a letter of resignation to the national team. The decision is still subjected to approval by the Vietnam Sports Adminstration, which has said that it will try to encourage Viên to stay.

According to Võ Quốc Thắng, director of the Ho Chi Minh City National Center for Sport Training, Viên expressed interest in finishing her last year of college at the HCMC University of Sports and spending time on her personal life in her letter.

"In a meeting with center administrators, Viên said that the decision came after very serious consideration and wasn't a spur-of-the-moment thought," he explained. "She has dedicated her entire youth to the development of Vietnam's swimming and sports. She doesn't want to hinder young swimmers, especially after she turns 25, when further improvement will be limited and her performance has started to falter through the years."

Authorities had hoped that she would remain on the team through the next SEA games in 2022, and suggested that perhaps this retirement will not be permanent as she previously announced retirement in 2020 but had a change of heart. Reportedly the government has invested over US$1 million in her training over the years and had higher expectations for her international results.

[Photo via Nhan Dan]