Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Athletes proud... but not expecting gold

Athletes proud... but not expecting gold

Athletes proud... but not expecting gold

C AMBODIA'S South East Asian Games reps were - for sportspeople - happily pessimistic

about their chances at Chiang Mai, Thailand, but proud of their place in history,

nonetheless.

This was the first time that the ten-member "family" of South East Asian

nations had been together for the games, deputy director of the Sport Department

Prum Bunyee reminded the 51 athletes.

Cambodia is expected to be the minnows in all areas of competition. Early results

from the national soccer team - successive losses of 0-10, 0-4 and 0-9 - might well

set the pattern.

However, there is plenty of incentive to do well.

Before the team left, Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh said he would give

$10,000 to whomever won an individual gold medal; and $6,000 for a silver and $3,000

for a bronze. Team medals will cost Ranariddh $25,000, $15,000 and $6,000, depending

on the color.

The pundits were looking at some athletes to perform well. Team spokesman Nouv Sovathero

singled out judo, volleyball, boxing, gymnastics and swimming to be the strongest

Cambodian events of the ten-event tournament. But those same athletes told the Post

that no, things were really stacked against them.

Fancied swimmer Hem Lum Phan, 21, said he was "not nervous at all" and

that he "hoped and wished to win," but that the competition would be fierce.

Phan, whose father was a well-known swimmer and his mother a gymnast, won two medals

in seven swimming meets in Korea recently. He has trained in Korea for the past 19

months.

However, back in Phnom Penh his training facilities are poor, and there was a lack

of equipment. But "it is not important to compete for the money, what we want

is to stimulate [Cambodia's] national honor and reputation," he said.

"We also want to urge our team on and surprise the international audience."

Gymnast Im Sam Art was mentioned by team coaches and singled out by Ranariddh as

a firm title chance. He said: "I don't hope to win."

He said gymnasts need regular practise and that he hadn't trained for some time since

arriving back from a meet in Korea.

Sam Art, a Funcinpec policeman, also demoaned the lack of facilities in Phnom Penh.

His gymnast partner, Lun Soriya, 14, was too shy to talk about her club form when

she won gold medals, or about her chances in Thailand. Her father said that Soriya

sometimes skipped school to practise her sport.

Director of Cambodia's Olympic Committee, Pou Sothirak, said that winning or losing

wasn't important, but what was most pleasing was that Cambodia was finally competing.

Cambodia had spent about $200,000 preparing the team - complete with red, yellow

and black patterned raw silk blazers - and other donors had chipped in $260,000.

All the Cambodian athletes are coached by Koreans. The only exception is the volleyball

team, which is coached by Chinese trainers.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four