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Marathon men miss out as soft tennis players fall short

Cambodia’s Kuniaki Takizaki finishes the men’s marathon at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium on Friday.
Cambodia’s Kuniaki Takizaki finishes the men’s marathon at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium on Friday. AFP

Marathon men miss out as soft tennis players fall short

In the men’s marathon yesterday morning, Kuniaki Takizaki, who is popularly known in Cambodia and his native Japan as Neko Hiroshi, finished last among 14 finishers in a time of 2 hours 34.16, which fell just outside of his personal best.

It was, however, a case of deja vu for the Kingdom’s most successful long distance runner Hem Bunting, who failed to finish the race, bringing back sad memories of the same occurrence at the Guanzhou Games in China four years ago.

Bahrain’s Mahboob Ali Hasan Mahboob crossed the finish line in 2:12:38 yesterday to take the gold, just a second ahead of Kohei Matsumura of Japan, whose compatriot Yuki Kawauchi claimed bronze.

Soft tennis made its Asian Games debut in Incheon as a demonstration sport and it turned out to be a humbling experience for Cambodia both on and off the court.

While one of the country’s female players, Yi Sophany, was disqualified after a pre-competition drugs test found traces of a banned substance in her sample, Orn Sambath and his partner Ngoun Meng Chheng lost all four of their men’s doubles group matches on Thursday at the Yeorumul Tennis Center.

The Cambodian pair suffered a 5-0 thrashing against South Korea’s Kyucheol Park and Sanggwon Lee in the opening tie, followed an hour later by a loss of the same margin to Japan’s Hidenori Shinohara and Koji Kobayashi.

In the third group contest, the Mongolian duo of Enkhjin Bolortuya and Damdin Altankhuyag also delivered a shutout to Sambath and Chheng. Nepalese combination of Sohan Dhauvadel and Sthapit Ujjol beat the Cambodian hopefuls 5-1 in the fourth match.

Earlier in the week, Orn Sambath, part of Cambodia’s tennis team that took part in the Guanzhou Games four years ago, failed to get past the preliminary stage after a record of two wins and two defeats in the singles event.

Though Sambath managed to beat Negmatullo Rajabaliev of Tajikistan and Taiwan’s Ting Chun Lin, those wins were too little too late since he had lost the first two matches in Group A to Hyeongjun Kim of South Korea and Takuya Katsura of Japan.

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