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Cambodia hungry for medals

The Kingdom is looking to improve on previous medal tallies at the SEA Games, with athletes making use of superior training facilites in Vietnam in the buildup

CAMBODIA is set to compete in 19 sports at the upcoming SEA Games in Vientiane from December 9 to 18, according to the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia. The sports have been listed as archery, athletics, boxing, cycling, judo, karatedo, sepak takraw, wushu, wrestling, taekwondo, shuttlecock, petanque, beach volleyball, table tennis, badminton, tennis, swimming, golf and football (under-23).

After a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of Cambodia and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports of Vietnam, Cambodia sent seven sports teams to train for over a month in its neighbouring country, namely in wrestling, shuttlecock, athletics, karatedo, boxing, beach volleyball and football. Taekwondo fighters have also received training in South Korea, and tennis players Tan Nissan and Bun Kenny have recently returned from a residence in France to prepare for the competition.

Ouk Sethycheat, chairman of National Sport Training Centre of the Sports Ministry said that Cambodia is expecting to reap the benefits of athletes training abroad, especially from those training in Vietnam.

“We decided to send the athletes for training in our neighbour country [Vietnam] because the facilities and equipment are better than in Cambodia,” stated Ouk Sethycheat. “But we also believe in the performance of other sports trained in the Kingdom, especially petanque.”

In the 24th SEA Games in Thailand, Cambodia took a haul of 18 medals, including two golds (both in petanque), five silvers (in petanque, taekwondo and athletics) and 11 bronzes (in petanque, boxing, wrestling, tennis, taekwondo, athletics and beach volleyball).

On February 22, 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree for the financial support of athletes and their coaches who obtain medals in the international competitions. For the SEA Games, winners of gold medals will each receive 24 million riels (US$5,800), silver medallists will take home 16 million riels, and bronze medallists will be given 8 million riels. This cash incentive applies to each individual, including those involved in team events. Coaches receive the same amount as their best-performing athlete. For example if they train three athletes and one obtains a gold medal, the coach receives 24 million riels. Assistant coaches will be granted 70 percent of the prize awarded to the corresponding head coaches.
The biennial regional sports event was first held in 1959 in Bangkok as the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP Games), changing its name to the SEA Games in 1977 after eight editions. Cambodia, one of six founding member nations, was due to host the third SEAP Games in 1963 but was forced to cancel due to political circumstances. Thailand and Malaysia have each hosted the event six times, whereas Laos makes its debut this year as a host nation.

Before the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia participated in three SEA Games, winning a total of 145 medals – 41 golds, 49 silvers and 55 bronzes. After the war, Cambodia first returned to the competition in 1983 in Singapore and then in 1985 in Thailand, failing to register any medals on either occasion.

Cambodia then managed to win one silver and nine bronzes at the 14th SEA Games in Indonesia in 1987 before missing the three SEA Games between 1989 and 1993 while the government was busy preparing the first mandate of the national election.

From the six SEA Games held from 1995 to 2007, Cambodia won a total of three golds, 11 silvers and 44 bronzes.



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