Japanese “Owarai” comedian Neko Hiroshi has been given a universality placement by the International Olympic Committee to represent Cambodia in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, according to Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
Horoshi, who became a naturalised Cambodian citizen in 2011, will compete in the men’s marathon event at the Rio Games, Vath said.
The 39-year-old runner, who has several podium placings to his credit in some of the country’s half marathons and who won the the inaugural 42km run in Siem Reap two years ago, completes the line up of six Cambodian athletes heading to Brazil in August.
His latest success came last month when he won the Kep marathon in a time of 2 hours 44 minutes in a field of 12 runners.
“We are very happy that Cambodia will be represented both in the men’s and women’s marathons for the first time in history,” Vath told the Post yesterday.
“Neko Hiroshi and 42-year old Nary Ly, who is the first female runner from Cambodia to compete in this prestigious event, will be great inspiration for the younger generation.”
Controversy surrounded Hiroshi’s nomination for the 2012 Olympic Games in London by the NOCC. The world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, ruled that Hiroshi was ineligible to represent Cambodia since the stipulated one-year period had not elapsed since he gained Cambodian nationality. Hiroshi is eligible this year under those rules.