The Cambodian contingent celebrated its first gold medals at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar on Tuesday with male and female wrestlers triumphing on the mats of Yangon’s National Indoor Stadium.
In the gold medal match in the men’s under-84kg Greco wrestling comeptition, Kov Cheang Hong beat Jason Balabal of the Philippines. Bronze went to Thailand’s Kanchalee Chinnawet. Cheang Hong had won his opening bout against a Thai opponent before also emerging victorious in the semi-final over Myanmar’s Saw Maung.
Meanwhile, Cambodia’s Ni Samnang topped the standings in her women’s under-63kg freestyle category by overcoming host nation hope Wai Lawin Aung in the final. Laix Omphou Oday claimed bronze for Laos.
With government rewards, including cash bonuses from Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as windfalls from sponsors NagaWorld and Angkor Beer, the two golden grapplers can expect to collect about $24,000 each on return to the Kingdom for their exploits.
Cambodian wrestling also landed a bronze on Tuesday via Ngoun Kimheng in the men’s under-96kg Greco division. A bronze medal is worth about $7,000 to the athlete in cash incentives. The coaches are to receive the same amount won by their athletes, with assistant coaches getting the equivalent of 70 per cent of the purse.
Another bronze was bagged in sepak takraw, with the team notching up 160 points compared with the 250 by silver medalists Laos and the commanding 660 from winners Myanmar.
At time of press, Cambodia reside in seventh place out of 11 nations in the medals table on two golds, four silvers and 11 bronzes. The hosts are still streaking ahead at the summit with 18 golds, while Vietnam have 10 golds and Thailand have six.
Bottom-placed East Timor have yet to reach the podium of an event, while Laos and Brunei have at least a gold each and Singapore has two.
In the badminton tournament held at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium, which hosted yesterday’s official opening ceremony, Cambodia had only one moment of glory during Tuesday’s first round matches.
The mixed doubles team of Leng Sopheatra and Ker Pichchhoravy beat Myanmar duo Yi Lin Khine and Naing Phone Pyae 21-13, 12-21, 21-15 to progress to today’s quarter-finals.
Cambodian entrants into the men’s singles and doubles and women’s singles events were all comprehensively outclassed 2-0 in their opening ties.
Across the new capital at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex, the boxing competition wrapped up with the Kingdom devoid of a single medal. Three Cambodian fighters on Tuesday followed their three other team-mates in falling at the first hurdle, with Nat Seiknin losing to a split decision against Loa Bounpone Lasavonesy of Laos at 49kg, Vorn Viva downed 3-0 by Vietnam’s Loung Van Toan at 81kg and Phal Sophon undone by Vietnamese brawler Nguyen Van Hai at 60kg.
The ongoing basketball tournament, which follows a seven-team round robin format at Naypyidaw’s Zayyarthiri Stadium, saw Cambodia hammered 107-57 by overwhelming gold favourites the Philippines on Tuesday. Cambodia are in fourth on four points, but with four other teams also on the same total, they could well be in the medals with a strong finish in games against Thailand at 10:30pm Cambodian time today, Singapore tomorrow and Indonesia on Sunday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHORN NORN, TRANSLATION BY CHENG SERYRITH