Cambodia’s riveting attention will turn to the Ganghwa Dolmens Gymnasium in Incheon this coming Friday in lively anticipation of a taekwondo medal at the 17th Asian Games as the Sorn sisters, Seavmey and Davin, get down to fight their quarterfinal rivals.
A victory would imminently put them in line for a podium place – a bronze guaranteed even if they fail to make the next grade.
The younger of the two, Seavmey, who is competing in the under-73kg category, drew a bye into the last eight and takes on the winner of a pre-quarterfinal fight. The 2013 Myanmar SEA Games gold medalist is not unduly worried who her opponent will be, according to her coach Choi Yong Sok, who strikes a confident note that the sisters are in high spirits and combat ready.
“They have had very useful training stints at various clubs here in [South] Korea since we arrived nearly 12 days ago. Both are in good shape. Reputations do not bother them because both have strong mental make-up,” said Choi Yung Sok, a South Korean native who regards Cambodia as a home away from home having served as a national coach since 1994.
Contrary to Seavmey waiting to fight her “unknown” opponent, Davin, who picked up a silver at the Myanmar SEA Games, will be up against a familiar foe in Iranian Khadabandeh Akram in the over-73kg class.
The two met at the 2014 Asian Championships at the Universal Palace in Tashkent, Uzbekistan during the last week of May and the Iranian won the hard-fought semifinal 5-2 before she lost the final to China’s Li Donghua. Akram then followed up that performance with a gold medal in the 3rd Islamic Solidarity Games.
“There were a lot of positives in that Tashkent fight and we have worked on areas that needed sharpening up. I am hopeful she can reverse the verdict,” said coach Choi.
It was at the 2012 London Olympics that Sorn Davin left a grand impression of her fierce fighting abilities after going down 3-2 to the defending gold medalist Maria Espinoza of Mexico in an unforgettable first round match-up.
Meanwhile the third member of the Cambodian taekwondo squad, Ban Makara, will face Zaizai Abdulwahab of Afghanistan in a round of 32 contest of the men’s under-54kg category.
Wrestler Makara close to glory
Japanese veteran Takatsuka Noriyuki took precisely 56 seconds to floor Cambodia’s Ngoun Makara in the quarterfinals of the men’s 61kg freestyle wrestling event at Dowon gymnasium yesterday.
The 29-year-old Japanese grappler, whose career best performance was a third place at the World Championships way back in 2006, used his immense experience to bring down the Cambodian teenager 5-0 in the first period for a verdict of Victory by Fall.
The prospect of a medal for Makara was kept alive for a little longer yesterday, since the youngster had a potential chance to fight for a bronze medal placement via the repechage round. The French word repechage roughly translates to rescue, and is used in many combat sports to refer to the practice that allows participants who failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to continue to the next round.
However, Noriyuki lost on points 3-1 to India’s Bajrang, a result which saw Makara out of the event for good.
Earlier in the day, Makara gave Cambodian contingent something to cheer when he won his first round bout 4-1 in slightly less than three minutes against Abdulhadi Zakaria Ali of Saudi Arabia.
Makara’s other team-mates Chov Sotheara, Dorn Srey Mao and Dorn Sao all bowed out of the competition on Sunday after first round defeats.
Marathon men eye fitting finale
Cambodia’s most successful long distance runner Hem Bunting and his teammate Neko Hiroshi, the recent winner of the country’s first full marathon in Siem Reap during mid-August, will figure in Friday’s 42km race on the last day of competition.
Bunting, who is back in the national team after a break of nearly four years, is keen on putting up a good performance and hopes to reproduce his personal best of two hours and 23 minutes that he recorded in the Paris Marathon last year.