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Gymnasts cramped at champs

21 national gymnasts

The Cambodian Gymnastics Federation has issued a heartfelt apology to all athletes competing in the 2013 National Championships after many fell sick or pulled out from competition early complaining of poor living conditions at the National Sports Complex.

The event, held over six days and which concludes on Monday, started with 234 participants, including 71 females, but, by Sunday, about 40 in total had been brought back home by concerned parents, which prompted an apology from the organisers, according to CGF general secretary Noi Phana.

Due to ongoing construction and refurbishment of the Olympic Stadium, athletes were forced into cramped quarters without fans or adequate ventilation around the Taekwondo Hall, where the championships were taking place. Poorly maintained washroom facilities were also blamed for the discontent caused by competitors to have to take outside showers as late as 10pm.

Vas Soksan, general director of Takeo-based charity CamKids who sent a team to compete, told the Post: “There were 98 players, some management staff and eight coaches living together in a room. That really made conditions awkward. Some kids slept over each other.”

However, the director added that: “Even though most of the athletes were uncomfortable during their stay [at the National Sports Complex] and lacked good technique this year, lots of athletes are expected to still register for the Gymnastics Championship every year, since their commitment remains strong to national sport.”

According to Vas Soksan, five people got fever and 10 caught colds, although all were eventually cured with medication.

National women’s team athlete Chim Srey Nich, who was one of those who caught a cold, said: “Although I am a daughter from a peasant family and always sleep together with my family, I have never lived in such a tiny and uncomfortable room as this before.

“Yet I never lost my inspiration. I will work harder for the next competition, but I also hope I will stay in better room next year.”

Ven Savin, the coach of Kratie-based club Zaky Maich told the Post that his room was comfortable but “sometimes stuffy” due to lack of a fan.

“The food was edible, but just not delicious,” he added. 

Translated by Cheng Seryrith

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