‘Try not to associate bodily defect with mental, my good friend, except for a solid reason.” Charles Dickens’ unforgettable words in his classic novel David Copperfield.
For a little girl from Kep, a nagging problem with her hip and knee was no solid reason at all to give up her love for tennis. She kept ignoring the defect as a hindrance.
Her mental strength has now won over her disability and Meas Toukna is ready for a normal life after going through a successful surgical procedure a couple of weeks ago to release the contracted muscles that restricted her movement.
The problem traced back to her formative years as a secondary effect of an injection, but even with that noticeable discomfort, her determination to do well in tennis only kept growing. The spotlight was clearly on her when she won the U14 girls singles event at a national level tournament in Phnom Penh recently.
Moved by her passion at one end, ordeal at the other, the Tennis Federation of Cambodia stepped in to arrange medical attention for her.
Raised by a single mother after a very young Toukna lost her father, the family could not afford the corrective surgery she needed all these years. But thanks to Dr Jim Gollogly, who offered to do the operation free of charge at his Children’s Surgical Centre in Phnom Penh, Toukna’s life has taken a turn for the good. The TFC took care of Toukna and her mother’s transport, food and stay expenses.
“The actual operation was done by Dr Soum Ratha. The muscle that was causing her trouble in her hip and knee has been released. Now she will have to start stretching those muscles and I think she can start playing tennis in a couple of weeks as any normal girl,” Dr Jim Gollogly told the Post yesterday.
TFC secretary-general Tep Rithivit said the bottom line for the Federation was to take good care of their players.
“This is a case in point. I was personally touched by her determination and passion for the game. We had to focus on her ability to play tennis and get this problem out of the way.
“I thank Dr Jim Gollogly and Dr Soum for making this possible. I hope Toukna gets back to the court like any other girl of her age soon and pursue tennis with greater verve,” he added.
Several students of the Tennis Academy of Kep sent Toukna get well soon messages and coach Sokphal Ngo-Sisowath expressed the hope that this brave little girl could get back to her best in two months time to defend the title she won in Phnom Penh.
Toukna has now won the most troublesome first set of her tennis life.