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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hiroshima Games team fails Khmer fans

Hiroshima Games team fails Khmer fans

Hiroshima Games team fails Khmer fans

WITH the end of the 12th Asian Games on October 16 many Cambodian fans were dissappointed with the results of the Kingdom's contingent of athletes as they came up empty handed in the medal department.

Hopes for a stronger showing were initially high, especially since Cambodia had not participated in the Asian sports fest for over two decades.

The games were televised in the capital on IBC-TV and many viewers watched them in the hopes of catching sight of one of the nine-member Cambodian delegation.

Leng Song, 29, said he was embarassed when he saw a Khmer boxer go down in the first round of his match with a Filipino pugilist who was his weight classes gold medal winner in the 1990 games.

"If he didn't use his helmet he might have been knocked down after the first blow," said Song.

"It's very sad that Cambodian athletes flew from one country to another but didn't come away with even one medal.

"I think the Khmer boxer should have raised the white flag before the match began."

Some sports fans in the capital were grumbling about the selection process for the Cambodian squad, but Keo Sareth, Chief of the Technical Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport said the process reflected the skills of the participants.

He did note however that some selections were made to reflect a diverse national composition in the team.

"Nobody is qualified to be a professional [athlete]," said Sareth. "So we had to select people who would be the best."

"Of course, some people criticize us because we did not select the right people to join the Asian Games because we did not have the right people to choose," Sareth added. Sareth said he was well aware of the Cambodian team's limitations but that the government was eager to show the national flag at the Games after so many year's absence.

Sareth identified a number of problems for the Cambodian team.

He said that the poor performance was due to a lack of training as well as the fact that most Cambodian athletes were amateurs who had jobs in other areas and couldn't afford to take the time off for training even if proper facilities were available.

He also noted a lack of public funds to encourage the development of Cambodian athletics.

Cambodian athletes participated in the marathon, boxing, badminton, judo and tennis at the Games held in Hiroshima, Japan.

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