Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia’s riders claim bronze as 2017 SEA Games open in style



Cambodia’s riders claim bronze as 2017 SEA Games open in style

Malaysian diver Nur Dhabitah lights the Games cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Malaysian diver Nur Dhabitah lights the Games cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. Adek Berry/AFP

Cambodia’s riders claim bronze as 2017 SEA Games open in style

The spectacle of teenage diver Nur Dhabitah flying under the roof of the 80,000-capacity Bukit Jalil stadium to light the 12-metre-high SEA Games cauldron was the climax to a glittering two-hour opening ceremony as fireworks blazed in the Kuala Lumpur sky on Saturday evening.

The ceremony began with a flag parade of the 10 member nations of Asean and Timor-Leste followed by a march past of the contingents and athletes as well as the raising of the SEA Games Federation and KL2017 flags.

Malaysia’s monarch, Yang Di-Pertuan Agung Sultan Muhammad V, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak were among the top dignitaries attending the spellbinding ceremony showcasing the best of Malaysian art and culture.

The Games were declared officially open by the Malaysian monarch, with national high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa taking the traditional oath on behalf of the nearly 5,000 athletes gathered for the 11-day competition over 405 events in 38 disciplines.

The four-part cultural display highlighting Malaysia’s origins and diversity was hosted by popular Malaysia entertainers Yasmin Yusof and Raymond Goh. In keeping with the Games theme of “Rising Together”, song and dance sequences depicted Asean unity.

Hosts Malaysia have fielded the most number of athletes at the Games at 844, while Thailand boast one of the biggest contingents with 816 athletes and 446 officials.

The Cambodian delegation at the march past was led by chinlone athlete Nem Sokphirom, with the contingent’s strikingly bold purple tops standing out.

The Cambodian team of Ly Sovanachandara, Lon Sopheakra, Sim Narith, Phay Visal and Moeng Sochea brought home the country’s first ever equestrian medal Games after tenaciously holding off Singapore to bag bronze in the 80km team endurance competition at the Terengganu International Endurance Park in Lembah Bidong yesterday morning.

The five-team line-up was flagged off at 3am and nearly six hours later Malaysia ended up celebrating gold in both the individual and team events with Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin making Games history as the first sultan not only to compete but also to win a medal.

In the team event, Malaysia, ably led by Mizan Zainal Abidin was followed home by Thailand, with Cambodia third, Singapore fourth and Brunei bringing up the rear. In the individual standings, Mizan was followed home by compatriot Mohd Bulkhari Rozali in close attendance.

It was a remarkable show of courage by the young and relatively inexperienced Cambodian team competing in an endurance event for the first time. While riders from other countries brought their own horses, Cambodia had to lease theirs, making it more challenging for the team to understand and familiarise themselves with their mounts.

“We are so thrilled. We have been working so hard and the boys went through a tough qualifying cycle. This is our competitive debut in endurance [and] we are so proud to bring this medal home,” said Mona Tep, the president of the Cambodian Equestrian Federation.

“We have to acknowledge the great support we have received from the Asean Equestrian Federation and the help the Thai Equestrian Federation has been extending, and also our home base of the Cambodian Country Club for so much of logistical support,” Tep said.

Cambodia’s endurance coach Guillaume Larivain was understandably overwhelmed by the team’s performance and felt that the bronze medal had given the riders an incentive to aim even higher.
Cambodia claimed bronze medals from event 1 and event 4 in chinlone on Thursday.

Cambodian long distance runners Takizaki Kuniaki, more popularly known as Neko Hiroshi, and Ma Viro finished sixth and 11th respectively in the men’s marathon, which was run some hours before the Opening Ceremony on Saturday.

The 40-year-old Rio Olympian Kuniaki, a Japanese national turned Cambodian citizen in 2011, clocked a personal best of 2 hours 42 minutes 22 seconds, but that effort was not enough to get him close to the top finishers. Kuniaki, who had finished 139th in Brazil at 2:45:55, however, considerably improved upon that time in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore’s Guillaume Soh won the event in 2:29:27, ahead of Agus Prayogo of Indonesia in 2:31:20, with Muhaizar of Malaysia checking in third at 2:31.52.

It was an uphill struggle for Ma Viro as he came home 11th out of a field of 15 runners, out of which three did not finish. Viro, who had finished third earlier this month in the Angkor Empire Half Marathon in Siem Reap, clocked in at 3:18.

In the men’s rugby 7s, Cambodia beat Indonesia 17-12 in the fifth-sixth place playoff at the Petaling Jaya Stadium yesterday morning.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused