CAMBODIAN women are breaking free of social stigmas and disproving myths to succeed in the world of sports.
Vath Chamroeurn, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, says that over the past several years women have accounted for 30 percent of the total population of athletes representing Cambodia in international contests.
In 2009, Cambodian female athletes won one gold medal, four silver, and 13 bronze at the 25th Southeast Asian Games. Events included pétanque, tae kwon do, volleyball, weight lifting, and wrestling.
Lack Som Ath, general director of the General Department of Sports at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said that Cambodian female athletes participated in as many as 20 sports. One shining example is Duch Sophorn – Cambodia’s finest player of pétanque (a form of boules), who has won gold, silver, and bronze medals in international competitions over the past decade.
Her success has inspired many young girls to pursue athletics but she admits it has come at a price in a society that she says views athletic-looking women as sterile and unattractive.