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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judo aces ready for Games

Judo aces ready for Games

T HE head of the Cambodian Federal Judo Club (CFJC) said his team is ready to win at the 1994 Asian Games next month - despite the country's many years of isolation from official international competitions.

Hock Ching Kim said: "Our [Judo] students have developed much skill through many years experience with Soviet experts during the mid-1980s, both here and overseas.

"Our students used to fight and train with European people who were much bigger than us.

"I am optimistic our students will be able to win [at the Asian Games] because in this case their opponents should be of equal weight."

This is the first time in over 20 years Cambodia will compete in the Asian Games.

Kim said the former Soviet Union cut off sporting aid to CFJC in 1989 and the Cambodian government has done little to help.

"I have no idea why they don't help. Maybe the government thinks that this not so important. But, you see, Cambodia was a very good sporting country. Why not encourage sportsmen.

"Another problem is that the students do not have enough energy because they are very poor and have not enough food to eat.

"Our staff sometimes work in factories or as cyclo drivers. How can they be strong enough?" Kim asked.

Kim also complained that the club was desperately short of equipment and technical assistance, except for some materials and training aid currently being provided by the Japanese Government.

Toshihiko Nikko, Japan's premier exponent of Judo, has been training the Cambodian team for over a month for the games to be held in Hiroshima, Japan in September.

He said: "The main difficulty is the students have learnt different styles to the traditional Japanese way of fighting.

"Our judo [regulations] do not accept this style and they have to change otherwise they will lose."

Nikko said the students have trained very hard and developed quickly.

He says if the team hold strong expectations of winning he has some optimism for the them.

He added that he is also encouraged by the Khmer athletes' abilities to tap the spiritual powers of their people.

Kang Kanilan, a 19-year-old female who has been selected to compete in the games, said: "We don't know what will happen, whether we will win or lose.

"I can't say yes or no. It depends on my luck."

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