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Five-star squad set for Olympic Games in London

Five-star squad set for Olympic Games in London

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Swimmer Hem Thon Vitiny will compete in the women’s 50-metre freestyle event at the Olympic Games. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia has released the final list of London-bound athletes, coaches and officials.

The five sports stars who will compete at the Summer Games are female taekwondo fighter Sorn Davin, male middle-distance runner Kieng Samorn, female track sprinter Chan Seiha, female short-distance swimmer Hem Thon Vitiny and her male team-mate Hem Thon Ponleu.

“It’s good to see that we can finally confirm our athletes for the London Games, and this will help us put the finishing touches to our preparation,” NOCC spokesman Ken Gadaffi told the Post yesterday.

“For the past year, we have been training the athletes with many of them having doubts about their participation in the Games.

“Now that the final team is out, the five athletes can now go for the home stretch. We hope to put them in good shape before the July 27 opening day.”

Sorn Davin, 21, an SEA Games silver medallist, will travel ahead of her colleagues to attend a training camp in London, flying out of Cambodia next Wednesday.

She will compete in the female 63-kilogram combat event, having failed to qualify via official qualifying tournaments but having received a Tripartite Commission Invitation Place from the International Olympics Committee.

The remaining four athletes have been slated for pre-Games training in China, with details yet to be confirmed by the NOCC.

Chan Seiha, 21, will participate in the women’s 100 and 200 metres contests, while 29-year-old Kieng Samorn will try his luck at his chosen discipline, the men’s 800 metres.

At 19, Hem Thon Vitiny is the youngest person to represent Cambodia at this year’s Olympics.

She will be entered in the women’s 50-metre freestyle competition.

Vitiny’s 22-year-old uncle, Hem Thon Ponleu, was the last member of the squad to grab one of the four spots made eligible to the NOCC in line with the Olympic Charter.

Ponleu’s race times were sent to swimming’s world governing body, FIBA, for deliberation last month.

He finally got the all-clear over the weekend, and will race in the 50-metre freestyle.

“Our target in each of the sports is to beat personal bests and, depending on the draw we find ourselves in the heat, we might be looking to get to the next round wherever possible,” Gadaffi said.

“If you ask me where our chances lie, we would be looking closely at Sorn Davin and Kieng Samorn.

“This is not to undermine the chances of the Hem Thons in swimming and Chan Seiha in athletics, but for them to compete against top athletes in their events [is very difficult]. Beating their personal best will be a bonus for us.”

The eight other delegates that will fly to London with the Cambodian squad have been named as chef de mission and NOCC treasurer Ly Kosal, administrative official Ngan Sokvisal, team doctor Sdoeung Chea, accountant Top Panha, taekwondo coaches Hem Samnang and Choi Yung Sok, swimming coach Kem Kiri and athletics leader Pen Vuthy.

NOCC president Thong Khon and general secretary Vath Chamroeun will travel as special guests of the IOC, with Ken Gadaffi serving as the team’s press attaché.

To contact the reporters on this story: Yeun Ponlok at [email protected]
Dan Riley at [email protected]

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