Less than a month after an inspiring debut at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, Cambodian sailors showed a marked improvement at the Johor International Regatta, with Heang Sunheng earning a podium finish in Malaysia on Sunday.
Cambodia’s three-member team under manager Som Sothrithypong took part in the Johor show following an invitation from the Malaysian Sailing Federation.
The CSF pitched in a pair of 15-year-olds, Heang Sunheng and Soth Meas for the Windsurfing Big Techno 293 in a fairly strong field of 12 racers, counting on their SEA Games experience on Langkawi island last month.
The teenagers rose to the occasion with Sunheng stoically holding out to finish third to ensure the CSF’s first notable success as a fledgling federation formed no more than two years ago.
Despite giving his all, Meas finished just out of the medal zone in fifth place.
Meanwhile, first-year rookie on a laser radial boat Duch Boutheon could only finish 11th out of 14 racers in his class. The 37-year-old Boutheon also figured in Cambodia’s SEA Games sailing squad that included Sunheng and Meas.
The President of the CSF Gordon Tang, who is also the vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, saw the first major success as a positive trend for the growth of sailing in the Kingdom.
A competitive sailor himself, Tang has promised his own personal support and that of the CSF for the healthy growth of the sport.
Reacting to the Johor success, NOCC Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun, who is also the first vice president of the CSF, said it was gratifying to see a young sailor bring home a bronze medal in the wake of the CSF’s recognition by World Sailing recently and the country’s SEA Games debut.
While the federation is planning more overseas training and competition for national sailors as it targets next year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, efforts are also underway in securing World Sailing help for improving coaching standards.
According to Second Vice President of the CSF Rathasak Thong, the top priority for the federation is to improve the competitive standards of Cambodian sailors to bring them on par with regional giants like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.