The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia was stunned yesterday by the news that the two sports the Kingdom’s performed most successfully in at last year’s SEA Games – wrestling and vovinam – have been dropped from the list of medal events for the 2015 tournament in Singapore.
The Kingdom’s wrestlers grabbed four gold medals, two silver and four bronze in Myanmar last December, while the vovinam squad brought home two gold medals, one silver and seven bronze. These medals comprised nearly half of Cambodia’s total haul of 47.
Other popular disciplines getting the axe for the Singapore Games include karate and weightlifting. However, tennis is making its return, after its omission in Myanmar, along with the end of lengthy hiatuses for rugby and triathlon. Cambodia won bronzes medals in tennis in 2009 and 2011, while rugby and triathlon have seen increased activity from their federations here.
NOCC officials stated yesterday that they plan to send athletes for 22 of the 36 sports to be played at the 28th edition of the regional games, which take place every two years.
There will be 402 gold medals up for grabs at the competition, the Singapore National Olympic Council confirmed yesterday.
Council secretary-general Chris Chan said hosts Singapore has added six more sports from the initial 30 after appeals from SEA Games Federation member countries.
Chan said that Singapore cannot please everyone in including more disciplines, but stressed that the sports picked are not “Mickey Mouse” events.
“Of the 36, 34 are Asian games sports, 24 are Olympic sports,” Chan told reporters.
Only two sports – floorball and netball – do not belong to either of these two main categories, he said.
Floorball will be included as a medal event for the first time. It was a demonstration sport when Myanmar hosted the games in 2013.
The sport was developed in the 1970s in Sweden and is popular in Scandinavia. It is also growing in popularity in some parts of Asia and the US. It is an indoor game and combines elements of hockey and football. There are five field players and one goalkeeper on each team.
Netball will also be included for the first time since it debuted in Malaysia in 2001.
Countries hosting the SEA Games tend to pick sports that they are strong in to ensure a high medal tally for the home team.
The SEA Games is a smorgasbord of different sports, ranging from the mainstays of football, swimming and athletics to the more exotic sepak takraw and wushu, which are passionately followed in this part of the world. In 2011, Myanmar debuted chinlone, a sport that involves six players keeping a rattan ball above the ground using any parts of their body except their hands while they walk around in a circle.
The games will be held June 5-16 next year. Singapore last hosted the event in 1993.
All 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – will be involved, plus non-ASEAN state East Timor, which first participated in the games in 2003.
The Philippines sent its smallest delegation in 14 years to the Myanmar Games in protest at the selection of medal events.
The sports list for 2015 is not necessarily finalised, with regional NOCs and sport federations still able to apply for or protest certain inclusions to the Singapore organising committee.
Wrestlers head to Thai qualifiers
Despite yesterday’s news, the Cambodian Wrestling Federation is pushing on regardless in pursuit of more international success with four national team grapplers set to fly to Bangkok for Asian Zone qualifiers of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Nanjing, eastern China, this August.
The Cambodian quartet bound for the May 8-15 tournament includes Ni Samnang, who struck SEA Games gold in Myanmar in the women’s 63kg freestyle; Ngun Makara, who claimed the men’s 60kg silver at the 2013 Southeast Asian Junior & Cadet Wrestling Championships in Thailand; Don Srey Mao, a women’s 42kg bronze winner at a pre-SEA Games event last year; and men’s 52kg prospect Mol Raksmey.
CWF vice president Casey Barnett will lead the delegation to Thailand and will be joined by CWF secretary-general and team coach Thin Vichet.
“If one of our wrestlers finish first or second at the event, they will direct qualify for a place in the Youth Olympics in China. But if not, there will be more chances to make the games,” Thin Vichet told the Post.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP & CHHORN NORN, TRANSLATED BY CHENG