The leaders of the Cambodia Gymnastics Federation (CGF), and former games’ medalists, have expressed strong confidence that they will be successful in claiming gold to achieve the goal set by the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), at the first historic SEA Games in Cambodia in 2023.

CGF, with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon as president and Sok Hong as vice-president, has been tasked with winning at least one gold by CAMSOC. The gymnastics team broke their own record at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam, claiming several silver and bronze medals.

CGF secretary-general Noy Phana said they were holding regular meetings to discuss their progress.

“We set clear goals last year, and believe we are on track with our plans. We accomplished our first two goals, so we feel that we are moving nicely towards the third – claiming a gold. We will keep working together to make sure it happens,” he said.

Claiming three silver and a bronze at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi in May was the first goal Phana highlighted. When the federation achieved their second goal, picking up two silvers and a bronze at the 7th Aerobic Gymnastic ASIAN Championship 2022 in Thailand in August, he knew they were on their way to achieving their master plan at the 2023 SEA Games.

In order to make sure they manage it, the federation has left nothing to chance. Through CAMSOC and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, they have brought in foreign coaches to train their athletes, as well as sending their aerobics team to a long-term training camp in China.

“We have a clear preparation plan for all of our athletes. The aerobics team has been training and testing in China and we hope that when they return, they will have a big impact at the SEA Games,” said Phana.

The federation held the National Gymnastics Championship and the 6th Thong Khon Cup 2022 in the Hall of the national stadium on October 26, when 64 athletes competed in 13 disciplines: five aerobic and eight artistic.

The championship was also a chance for officials and referees to come to grips with new rules and regulations from the International Sports Federations (IFs), an excellent opportunity to learn about the changes and practise implementing them ahead of officiating next year’s games.

Phana said CGF has five international standard aerobics judges, but needs at least one who can judge the artistic forms of the sport. He is currently in contact with the Asian Gymnastics Union and the International Gymnastics Federation to ask them for guidance in helping his officials to take the international licensing exam.

He said the question of judges is not a significant issue, especially when compared with the need to guarantee that the Kingdom’s athletes are strong enough to secure gold.

“What we are really focused on are our athletes. They are the ones who will build the image of the Kingdom and make us proud. Cambodia has been waiting 64 years for this historic event. This is a source of pride for the Kingdom. We have the chance to showcase Khmer hospitality to the world and demonstrate our professionalism,” he added.

Cambodian national gymnast Choeun Chanborey, who won one silver medal in the team event and a bronze in the individual aerobics event at the last SEA Games, was confident the team would be able to win gold.

The 23-year-old, who is laser-focused on his training, said he had seen a marked increase in the technical level of the gymnastics team. He said he believed the international coaches had been responsible for the improvements, and is now certain that they will stand atop the podium.

“We are aiming for gold, and I believe we can do it. Our abilities are increasing steadily, and I would say that Vietnam are our only real obstacle. I think we are clearly better than every other team in the region, and the advantage of competing at home should be enough to see us through to the top spot,” he added.