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A disappointing day at the track for Cambodia’s runners


Cambodia’s 200-metre runner Chan Seyha looks dejected as she leaves the track after her heat at Olympic Stadium on Monday night. Photograph: Dan Riley/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia's athletics contingency succumbed to the Monday blues as both runners failed to register new personal bests on the track of the Olympic Stadium in London.

In Heat 2 of the men’s 800 metres competition held in the late morning, Cambodia’s Kieng Samorn showed some early promise but faded significantly during the second lap to come home dead last in 1:55:26, a season best but more than three seconds off his target time.

The 29-year-old from Ratanakkiri cited a clash with another runner during the opening circuit for his lack of form. “I’m devastated that I didn’t break my personal best,” he told the Post. “Another athlete’s leg hit mine and I couldn’t perform well after that.”

Samorn was clearly in awe of the occasion, using up a lot of nervous energy in the warm up by jogging past the stands, waving and striking poses to the point where stewards had to usher him to the starting line. For sure it was a once in a lifetime experience to compete in front of 80,000 screaming athletics fans at the Olympic Stadium, although you can’t help but wonder what could have been if he’d have saved all his enthusiasm for the race.

Starting in lane 3, Samorn kept the pace nicely as the competitors merged on the back straight and was only pushed to the rear right at the end of the first lap. The class of the field, however, was made apparent in the closing stages as the Cambodian fell further and further adrift.

Warm applause greeted his final efforts across the line, where he subsequently collapsed on the track. Britain’s Andrew Osagie went over to shake his hand having qualified for the semifinals in third.

Samorn had finished just over six seconds slower than the seventh-placed athlete, although this wasn’t the largest losing margin of the day. That ignominy belonged to Erzhan Askarov of Kyrgyzstan, who trotted in almost 11 seconds behind the penultimate runner in Heat 6.

At least the Cambodian can take heart in the fact that he’d run alongside, albeit very briefly, world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya, who won Heat 2 in 1:45:90. The final of the men’s 800 metres is tomorrow night at 2am Cambodian time.

While the weather conditions couldn’t have been better for Samorn, with glorious sunshine bathing the stadium throughout the morning, his compatriot Chan Seyha clearly struggled in the chilly and damp conditions of the evening session during her women’s 200-metre heat.

Drawn in the dreaded inside lane of Heat 5, which included reigning world and Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, the 17-year-old Kandal province native was never in the race and recorded a time of 26.62, over a quarter of a second slower than her PB of 26.34.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” said an exhausted Seyha shortly after leaving the track. “It was so cold and windy. I couldn’t run my usual race.”

Under the circumstances, it was hard to tell if she benefited from new spiked shoes bought for her just a few days prior to the event by team sponsors NagaWorld. Without a synthetic track to train on in Phnom Penh, the sprinter may have to wait for her next international competition to lace them again.

It remains to be seen whether that event will be in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.

The final of the women’s 200 metres in London will be held tonight at 3am Cambodian time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Riley at reporting from London



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