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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Team lines up for Olympics

Team lines up for Olympics

team.jpg
team.jpg

Em Chanray, right, a 16-year-old, 48-kg bundle of muscle and aggression, lands a blow to the jaw of her opponent, Theoun Chanry, in Cambodia's first televised women's kick-boxing match, on TV3 on March 20. They fought five two-minute rounds in a ring built in the studio, before a large, mostly male audience. Although Chanray appeared to dominate, the referee, Chey Bunchur, declared a draw. The two boxers have each had about 20 fights, mostly against Thai women on the northwest Thailand-Cambodia border.

Cambodia will send a team to the 2004 Olympic Games, for only the third time in 30

years.

National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) secretary-general Meas Sarin says at

least four Khmer athletes, two men and two women, will go to Athens for the Olympics,

held from August 13 to August 29.

The NOCC is in the process of selecting two people to compete in a track and field

event and two swimmers.

Sarin said: "Cambodians can be proud that our nation will once again be represented

at the Olympic Games."

Olympic events usually require participants to qualify through a series of smaller

touraments. No Cambodian has qualified in this way, but Sarin said the country is

nonetheless allowed to select four athletes to take part.

He is also lobbying for a fifth Cambodian entrant in boxing, wrestling or taekwondo

through a "wild card" entry. The Cambodian team is funded by annual grants

by the International Olympic Committee.

Khmers first appeared at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, then at Tokyo 1964 and Munich

1972, before internal troubles called a halt to international sporting endeavors

for almost three decades.

In 1996 the Cambodian flag was once again flying proudly at the Atlanta Olympics,

followed by an entry to the 2000 Sydney Games.

Sarin has launched an appeal for Khmers living abroad to represent the country:"If

Cambodians living in other countries are good at their sport we want them to come

and compete for us. If they are better than local Khmers, whatever the sport, they

will earn a place.

"Cambodia needs successful, talented athletes to lead us forward. Success brings

success. If someone can pay their air fare to Cambodia we will be able to cover their

costs to travel to competitions such as the SEA and Asian Games and I can take care

of citizenship matters."

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