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Chov Sotheara clinches first wrestling gold

Chov Sotheara (red and white) of Cambodia wrestles Sayamone Keovilaysone of Laos in the women’s 45kg wrestling final at the SEA Games in Laos. AFP

The 26-year-old becomes Cambodia’s first-ever wrestler to win a gold medal at the SEA Games

Chov Sotheara (red and white) of Cambodia wrestles Sayamone Keovilaysone of Laos in the women’s 45kg wrestling final at the SEA Games in Laos. AFP

THE Kingdom registered its third Southeast Asian Games gold medal Wednesday, and its first ever in wrestling, when Chov Sotheara won the 45 kilogram women’s category after beating Laotian Saysamon Keovilyson and Filipino Maribel Jambora. “I’m so proud of myself to be a gold medal winner,” said Chov Sotheara. “Thanks for everyone, coaches, family. Now I’ve realised my dream.... [I’m] very happy.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s Try Sothavy won silver in women’s 51-55kg, while compatriot Chey Chanreaksmey claimed bronze in women’s 48-51kg. Try Sothavy was despondant after losing her last bout against Thailand’s Darunee Ora-In. “In the final round, I had a great start against Thai opponent,” she said through tears. “But so sad that I lost the chance [to win] in the last minute.”

Coach bemoans officiating
Despite the successes, Cambodian wrestling coach Thin Vichet noted his discontent with the match officials. “When my athletes should get a score, [the referees] didn’t award them,” he said. “Chum Chivinn should win gold on Tuesday, but with wrong decisions by the referees, he got only silver.... We have already lodged complaints about that, but we received negative responses. The athletes came here to compete for the medals, not to collect medals they’ve already prepared for us.”

Golds missed in the triples
Over at the petanque courts Wednesday, Cambodia looked poised to add to their two gold medals, having led the group in the preliminary stages of both mixed triples events. However, the one-man and two-women team, consisting of Khem Sopheak, Puov Chhourath and Un Sreya, lost heavily to Thai opponents 13-0 in their semifinals to take home the bronze.

Super semi but flat final
The one-woman and two-man lineup of Songvat Chakriya, Ya Chandararith and Heng Tha, played out a thrilling semifinal against the Thai team, which saw the Cambodians overturn a 2-10 deficit and emerge 13-12 victors, receiving raucous applause from the crowd.

The elation lasted just a few hours, until the team were upset 13-5 by their Vietnamese final opponents, to end up with the silver. “We were not too bad, but we lost many chances,” said Ya Chandararith. “However, I’m so happy to win more medals for the Kingdom.”



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