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Tears and anger after being tossed from judo competition

C AMBODIAN judo champion Bun Maren broke down in tears before Thai television after having been refused the chance to fight for an SEA games gold medal she feels she would certainly have won.

Maren was tossed out of the 52kg competition by Thai officials for being 0.15 of a kilogram too heavy.

When she weighed in again without a track-suit top and T-shirt, she was dead on 52kgs - but by then it was too late.

A Thai television crew later asked her to comment and Maren broke down in tears, sobbing and unable to talk.

A still visibly upset Maren says now that the decision was not fair.

Maren's coach was not allowed to accompany her to the weigh-in room, but all the other competitors were allowed theirs, she said. She was too shy to take off most of her clothes because of all the other people in the room. She weighed in at 52.15kgs.

"I was sure that I was 52kgs, so I asked the other coaches to go out of the room, I took my T-shirt off and my weight was exactly 52kgs," she said.

She stayed on the scales, and a Thai official came up to her with a certificate registering her weight at 52.15kgs.

"I was so glad to see my right weight [on the scales] that I did not look at the stuff in the paper," she said, and she signed the paper as correct. Then she was told she couldn't fight.

"I lost all the strength that I used to have. I felt exhausted hearing that," she said. "I was speechless. In just one second I lost my chance. I really regret [this]. It is unjust."

She said she could "guarantee 100 percent" that she would have won the gold medal. "I was stronger than anyone else, taller, physically stronger and I knew all the tactics [her opponents] used and more," she said, after having watched every fight. Maren had previously won a silver medal in a Russian competition against tough opponents from France, Hungary, Russia, Mongolia and Bulgaria, she said.

She had trained for a month in Japan and was sure she would win in Chiang Mai. She had never been so angry, and vowed to put that anger into a "big effort" to win gold at the 1997 SEA games in Indonesia.

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