Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Disabled athletes gear up for Asian champs

Disabled athletes gear up for Asian champs

Disabled athletes gear up for Asian champs


Cambodia's national disabled athletes get in some practise.

Despite a serious shortage of money, no potential sponsors and run-down training

facilities, 42 Cambodian disabled athletes are determined to do well at the Far East

and South Pacific games in Bangkok in January.

Christopher Min Ko, co-Director of the National Para-lympic Committee of Cambodia

(NPCC) said it is the first time that Cambodian disabled athletes will be taking

part in the international event.

Forty-four countries will be there at what is being seen as a stepping stone to the

Paralympics to be held in Sydney, Australia in the year 2000.

Despite their lack of experience, the athletes too are hopeful of success.

Marksman Um Sopheap, 39, said he wanted to win though his training for the Bangkok

games is very short. "I have only got regular training in the past two months."

Sopheap works for a rehabilitation center and has to arrange his training around

his working hours.

"On weekdays I train in the afternoon from 4 - 5 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday

I train from 8 - 11 am," he said.

Sopheap lost his left leg to a mine in 1986 in Banteay Meanchey province. "I

had difficulty balancing because I was not familiar with standing on the artificial

leg, but after about three months I got used to it."

He is proud of his achievements and smiles when he says he beat several dozen competitors

at last year's disabled sports day to become the national shooting champion.

His teammate Siek Leng, 36 said she has trained every day for three months. Twice

a week she got some extra help with a foreign trainer.

Siek Leng wants to do well but realizes it will be hard. "I will try my best

to win, but if not, at least it would be a chance for me to get more experience."

Sitting on her wheelchair, Choeun Phou, 36, a contender for the wheelchair 1500 meters

marathon, said she is looking forward to the competition. She speaks determinedly

and has only a few minutes to spare for an interview. She'd much rather be practicing.

Phou said she was handicapped in both legs by polio when she was three years old.


Siek Leng takes aim with a competition pistol.

She also participated in the disabled people's sport championships held here in March

last year.

Using her robust arms to wheel her chair, Phou said she regularly practices for two

hours on Saturday and Sunday. "I will try my best in the competition for victory."

Standing on his artificial left leg, Touch Phea, 26, a disabled marathoner, said

he has trained for this event for the past year.

Phea lost his left leg to a land mine in 1989 in Battambang, and until now he has

not had a job to do. He's lately joined the Cambodian Disabled People's Organization


"Although I have never attended an international event, I will try my best to


Cambodia will compete in amputee athletics, shooting, amputee table-tennis, volleyball,

wheelchair basketball, swimming, and wheelchair athletics (marathon).

January's competition is the culmination of efforts on the part of several NGOs and

local disabled people to get Cambodian disabled athletes onto the world stage.

Cambodia was officially accepted as full member of the International Paralympic Committee

(IPC) in November last year. NPCC has been working closely with the CDPO to send

athletes to Bangkok.

CDPO executive director Son Song Hak said that the participation in international

competition has grown out of a local sports day for disabled athletes.

"The Cambodian disabled people's sports day was created in 1993 by several NGOs

in Phnom Penh. It was only an opportunity for disabled people to participate in sports,

not the big match to select national teams or champions as it is now."

However he is concerned that the CDPO does not have enough money. "We are suffering

financially, even though we have just received $28,000 from AusAID. This only helped

us renovate part of our premises in the stadium."

What's needed now is nearly $19,000 to get the team to Bangkok.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which