A gutsy performance from Cambodia’s Chov Sotheara was not enough last night as she went down 4-0 to Carolina Castillo Hidalgo after entering the fray with female wrestlers from 18 different countries in the women’s -48kg freestyle wrestling at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The one-sided nature of the result meant it was unlikely Sotheara could progress under “repechage”, which allows participants who fail to meet qualifying by a small margin to continue to the next round.Sotheara’s opponent Hidalgo, an experienced wrestler from Colombia, reached fifth in the world rankings in 2011. She was ranked 10th last year.
Hidalgo won gold at the German Grand Prix and two bronze medals at the Pan America Games in 2015 in Toronto and 2011 in Guadalajara. Sotheara also won medals at her regional sporting event, returning home with gold from the Southeast Asian Games in Laos in 2009 and Myanmar in 2013.
The Cambodian wrestler failed to qualify for the Games but was given the chance to participate at the Rio 2016, her first Olympics, after the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia got a wild card from the International Olympic Committee to send one of its female wrestlers to Brazil.
Sotheara, 32, was the second oldest woman in the competition, just younger than Poland’s 34-year-old Iwona Matkowska, and she said she would retire after the Games.
At the weigh-in on Tuesday night, Vietnamese wrestler Vu Thi Hang missed weight, while Brenda Bailey Gomez from Honduras had to withdraw through injury.
Sotheara became the fourth Cambodian athlete to compete at the Rio Games after Pou Sovijja in the men’s 100m freestyle swimming, Hem Thon Vitiny in the women’s 50m freestyle swimming and Ly Nary in the women’s marathon – who became the first ever Cambodian woman to run in an Olympic marathon.
Taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey is due up on Saturday, while male marathon runner Neko Hiroshi is set to run on Sunday.