There was a surprise on the medal podium on the first day of competition in the Vietnamese martial art of vovinam at the 5th Asian Beach Games on Friday morning: Afghanistan.
One of 10 countries and regions joining the nine-event, three-day vovinam festival, Afghanistan won one of two bronze medals on offer in the performance of men’s leg attack technique.
Host nation Vietnam took gold with 275 points, followed by Myanmar with 268, Cambodia (261) and Afghanistan with 259. India (250) and Laos (247) completed the six entries. Afghanistan’s coach, Sayed Najibullah Fazli, explained that vovinam was introduced to the country two and a half years ago and this was the team’s third international event after competing in India and Bangladesh.
He estimates there are 1,300 players in the country, with 20 clubs in the capital Kabul and other clubs throughout the provinces. “It is growing in popularity and this bronze medal will help us develop the sport,” he said.
“The players were preparing for this event for two months. In Afghanistan the people know about vovinam so they will be very proud of their athletes here, and the athletes are proud to represent Afghanistan.” The team of Hakimi Abdul Aziz, Rasouli Lamar Hares, Sadaat Sayed Ahmad Bilal and Sadat Sayed Ahmad Fawad was the fourth team to perform in the sport’s first event.
Their routine put them in silver medal position behind Cambodia, before Myanmar and then Vietnam both surpassed them to take the top two spots on the podium. The vovinam federation has decided to award two bronze medals in each of the nine events to promote the sport throughout the continent.