Vietnam's star swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien snatched a surprise silver medal at a competition in Florida, the U.S., on Friday, after outshining two famous contenders of the host country.
The 20-year-old Vietnamese clocked 4:39.64 in the women's 400m individual medley event of the Arena Pro Swim Series, running from March 3 to 5 at the Orlando-based YMCA Aquatic Center.
Vien was only 2.82 seconds behind the gold medalist, the 2015 FINA World Championships runner-up Maya DiRado, who topped the leader board in a time of 4:36.82.
While she did not place first, the silver medal finish was more than enough for the Vietnamese swimming talent, as she surpassed two famous American swimmers, Becca Mann and Katie Ledecky.
Mann finished third, whereas Ledecky, who won five golds at the 2015 World Championships in Russia, placed fourth.
Earlier in the women's 200m freestyle event, Vien only finished fourth, clocking 2:01.69, much worse than her performance of 1:59.27 at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Arena Pro Swim Series is a leading swimming championship in the U.S., with eight sub-events. The Orlando competition is the third Arena Pro Swim Series event to be held in 2016, and is decisive for U.S. swimmers to compete for a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic games.
The surprise medal is a big encouragement for Vien to continue her journey in Orlando in preparation for Brazil this summer.
Vien has emerged as Vietnam's most decorated swim star after winning eight gold medals and smashing eight records at the 28th Southeast Asian Games, which wrapped up on June 16, 2015.
The swimmer now carries the country's biggest hope of winning a medal at the upcoming Games in Rio this August, as Vietnam has not brought home any Olympic medals since Hoang Anh Tuan took a silver medal for weightlifting at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
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