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Athletes set for London Games

Athletes set for London Games

With the Cambodian delegation of athletes, coaches and officials safely back on home soil after a two-week training course in Beijing, final preparations are being made before their departure on July 22 to the Olympic Games.

Post sports editor Dan Riley, who will be covering the delegation’s activities in London during the Games, and Post translator In Sopheng met with the four athletes and two coaches during a buffet lunch at Olympic team sponsors NagaWorld as they shared their vital statistics, thoughts on training and the upcoming Olympics, and messages to Cambodian sports fans.

Kieng Samorn
Event: Men’s 800 metres Running
Date of Birth: 04/03/1983
Home town: Kien Svay district, Kandal province
Height: 1.70 metres
Weight: 63 kilograms
Coach: Phay Sok, Pen Vuthy
Years as an athlete: 12 (5 at national level)
School/College: Hun Sen Takhmao High School
Personal Best: 1 minute 53 seconds
World record: 1:41.01 (David Rudisha – KEN)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 70%

Beijing training notes: Used new exercise equipment. Ran at least 7-10 kilometres every morning. In training, set times of 23 seconds over 200m, 51 seconds over 400m and 2.47 minutes over 1km.

Thoughts on London: Looking forward to seeing the opening ceremony and international superstars of sport at the Games. Want to check out tourist sites and entertainment places.

Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I’m delighted to fly the flag for Cambodia. I would like Cambodian people to help raise the profile of sport here.
“Exercise from sport is the medicine which can help your body and health and make you strong and smart. It can help you stop taking drugs, smoking cigarettes and relive stress.”

Chan Seyha
Event: Women’s 200 metres Running
Date of Birth: 09/08/94
Home town: Ang Snuol district, Kandal province
Height: 1.67 metres
Weight: 60 kilograms
Coach: Chey Kimsan, Pen Vuthy
Years as an athlete: 3
School/College: Samthomuk High School. Human Resources University
Personal Best: 26.34 seconds
World record: 21.34 seconds (Florence Griffith-Joyner – USA)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 70%

Beijing training notes: Training helped with fitness, building muscle and getting faster. There were changes every day to the training program. Ran distances of 50m, 100m and 200m numerous times, up to eight times each per day.

Thoughts on London: Surprised to be going to the Olympics. Looking forward to meeting former competitors and seeing sports stars as seen on television. Happy to be visiting such a modern and developed country such as England.

Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I wish all fans can help push us to do well, not only in London but also in future events.”

Hem Thon Vitiny
Event: Women’s 50m Freestyle Swimming
Date of Birth: 07/10/93
Home town: Makara 7 district, Phnom Penh
Height: 1.63 metres
Weight: 52 kilograms
Coach: Hem Kiri
Years as an athlete: 11
School/College: Baktouk High School, Phnom Penh International University
Personal Best: 30.55 seconds – Set at Rome World Championships in 2009
World record: 23.73 seconds (Britta Steffen – GER)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 80%

Beijing training notes: Chinese coaches had lots more training programs than Cambodia. Worked really hard and swam more than 10 kilometres for five to six hours per day. Helped get accustomed to the high quality conditions at the Olympics.

Thoughts on London: First time in London. Looking forward to seeing the Swimming stadium and Big Ben.

Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I’m so happy to represent Cambodia. I will try so hard to get the best time.
“I encourage all Cambodian athletes in their competition, even if they don’t expect to get a medal.”

Hem Thon Ponleu
Event: Men’s 50m Freestyle Swimming
Date of Birth: 26/01/90
Home town: Dangkor district, Phnom Penh
Height: 1.75 metres
Weight: 61 kilograms
Coach: Hem Kiri
Years as an athlete: 7
School/College: Baktouk High School, now works as a sports teacher
Personal Best: 27.22 seconds – set at Shanghai competition in 2010
World record: 20.91 (Cesar Cielo – BRA)
Confidence of beating PB in London: 60-70%
Beijing training notes: Chinese coach could not speak any English. Every day, swam at least 10 kilometres

Thoughts on London: Happy to be part of the Olympic team and the chance to see famous sports stars. Looking forward to meeting swimming friends from other regional nations. Wants to visit Big Ben.

Message to Cambodian sports fans:
“I’d like to ask all Cambodian sports fans to please support me as I race for our country.”

Pen Vuthy
Position: Athletics team leader
Date of Birth: 10/05/68
Hometown: Tram Kok district, Takeo province
Employment history: General Secretary of the Khmer Amateur Athletics Federation since 2009, Official at the Physical Education Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports since 2005
Responsibilities: Supervise the work of the two athletics coaches – former national team athletes Chey Kimsan (sprinter during 1960s-70s) and Phay Sok (middle distance runner during 1980s). Check the coaches’ written training schedules and monitor the athletes’ diets and conditioning.
Past competitions attended: 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Thoughts on London: “Due to the limited number of places on the delegation bound for the Olympic Games, only I will be able to travel to London as the official team leader.

“I will go to speak with other international coaches and learn new training techniques and athletics knowledge.”

Hem Kiry
Position: National swimming coach
Date of Birth: 11/04/80
Home town: Makara 7 district, Phnom Penh
Years as a coach: 10 with youth team, 6 with senior squad
Competitions attended as a coach: 2009 SEA Games in Laos, 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics, 2009 Asian Youth Games in Singapore
Competitions attended as an athlete: 2000 Sydney Games (where he set a Cambodian national record of 26:48 in 50m Freestyle), 2004 Athens Games

Thoughts on London: “The main things the swimmers need to concentrate on is trying to achieving their personal bests and not finishing last in their heats. “According to their times, I believe they’ll be put in heat 2 or 3.

“This is the second time at the Olympics for both of them [after 2008 Beijing Games], but they will be more excited for London. They’ve gained good experience in Beijing, so they should be more focused this time.

“Cambodian swimming is traditionally comparable to regional rivals such as Laos, Brunei and Myanmar. However, the latter two have recently started sending individuals to Australia and China for training, so we need to try to catch up with their standards.

“During the 2-3 weeks of build up before the London Games, we will be preparing mentally by talking regularly and giving advice. We will try to train their sprinting in the pool, but we will not do too much work with weights.

“I think there will be a separate training pool for athletes in London, but we really want to train as much as possible in the main pool [at the London Aquatics Centre].

“Outside of our events, I’d personally like to see Americans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Phelps is still a top swimmer, but Lochte is pushing so hard and clearly wants lots of medals.

“I’ve never been to England before, but I’ve visited France and Greece. As a practising English speaker, I welcome the opportunity to get to know London and perhaps find a way to improve my life.

I’d also like to see what swimming and coaching is like in England.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Riley at [email protected]
In Sopheag at [email protected]


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