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Hem Bunting cuts it in Half

Hem Bunting cuts it in Half

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Cambodia’s long distance pride and joy Hem Bunting left behind his Guangzhou Asian Games infractions to stay superbly focused on winning the 15th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon around the historic terrains of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap yesterday.

A seasoned marathoner all his adult life, the SEA Games silver and bronze medalist toyed with a field of nearly three thousand, setting a tempo that was too hot to handle for amateur runners drawn from 53 countries.

Smoothly taking charge within the first few of the 21 kilometres, Hem Bunting was cruising along comfortably by the half way stage. With less than five kilometres to go, he stepped up the pace to forge a sizeable lead which he maintained right up to the finish, clocking an impressive time of 1 hour 10 minutes 11 seconds.

Evan Fox of the United States worked his way ahead of the chasing pack to take the runners-up berth with a time of 1:15.55, just a shade ahead of Japan’s Neko Hiroshi who took the remaining podium place.

“It wasn’t easy. I was concentrating on sustaining my pace [rather] than looking back as to see who is closest to me,” said Hem Bunting, who is currently facing the wrath of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia for his alleged unsportsmanlike conduct in the recent Asian Games held in Guangzhou.

The men’s 10km event was a close affair with Sya Wath of Laos checking in seconds faster than Alex van der Meer of Ireland to grab the top prize. The light-framed Laotian runner timed 32 minutes 13 seconds to keep the Irishman at bay, with Australia’s Leigh Vial close behind for third.

The women’s half marathon was won with a measure of comfort by Japan’s Satoko Uejani in 1:22.31, four minutes clear of Vivian Tang of Singapore and seven minutes ahead of Australia’s Heather Danks.

In sharp contrast, the women’s 10km provided a thrilling tussle between the tall and well built Leng Leng Koh of Singapore and the compact frame of New Zealander Tanya Randall. With nothing between them going in the final three kilometres, Koh dug deep to break away and end up finishing a minute faster than Randall.  

Athletes with disabilites race
Meanwhile yesterday in the 10km run for men with a leg disability, Sam Mao, Nhork Kimlov and Ung Vatana filled the top three spots, while Meas Kim Sang, Lun Kamsal and Chhim Channy were first home respectively in the 10km run for men with a hand disability.

The 21km wheelchair race was won with something in reserve by Cambodian champion Van Vun. Pov Sophal and Oun Sophal completed the podium.

The 10km event for women with a leg disability saw Sok Chamroeun triumph ahead of Euch Vun and Chhoeung Mach. Na Vath edged Pi Sey in their women’s 10km wheelchair match race.

Though the day went by generally incident-free there were a couple of health scares, most notably when a runner from New Zealand collapsed close to the finishing line with apparent exhaustion. However, a medical unit was at hand to quickly stretcher him off to a waiting ambulance.

A bit of jostling before the start of the 3km Fun Run resulted in two participants knocking down an elderly woman, although she was helped to her feet quickly enough. A committed mother of three managed to complete the fun run with a baby on her back and two in a stroller to the appreciation of the crowd.

Another a huge roar went up when two parents raced over the finish line pushing a stroller with their son fast asleep.

Runners dress to impress
Various costumes were donned for the 10km race, including animal outfits featuring a bear, a monkey, a tiger, a bison and an elephant.

Two teachers from Phnom Penh made their own fashion statements in grass skirts and feathered caps.

Meanwhile, Camille Chai, who works for a French NGO in Phnom Penh and was born with a disabled arm and leg, cheered her boyfriend, her Canadian mother and her Cambodian father to the finish line. Chai then confirmed her determination to race next year.

Capping off the collection was an elderly man fitted with a pace maker. “It sets the pace for me,” he said.

The annual athletics event around Angkor Wat helps raise funds for people with artificial limbs and contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Jointly organised by the Khmer Amateur Athletic Federation, the NOCC and the Angkor Wat Half Marathon Organising Committee, with active support from several private organisations and NGOs, the 15th edition attracted a record number of entries with participating nations up from 47 last year to 53.

Arimori honoured at feast
On Saturday evening, the organisers served a delicious cultural feast at a fund-raising gala dinner in the Angkor temple complex for a select gathering of around 300 people.

Japan’s Olympic marathon icon Yuko Arimori took centre stage when she was honoured with the prestigious Monisaraphoan Moha Sena medal for her outstanding contribution over the years in promoting the half marathon in her role as Representative Director of local NGO Hearts of Gold. A yellow sash pinned with the medal was presented to her by the Tourism Minister and NOCC President Thong Khon.

Yuko Arimori is a household name in Japan, not only for her exploits as an Olympian with a marathon bronze and silver medal at the Barcelona and Atlanta Games respectively in the 1990s, but for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations. The Japanese marathoner was also honoured by the International Olympic Committee for her career achievements.

After running in the inaugural half marathon, she jumped to the organisational front in successive editions. “She has been part and parcel of every half marathon in the last 14 years,” said Thong Khon in his appreciation address.

Arimori recalled her humble beginnings as a distance runner, and how her passion lead her to success.

“I had no choice,” she told the Post yesterday. “I had no speed, I wasn’t so strong, but I loved to run and run and run, and marathon suited me fine.

“I am me when I run – that’s me. I feel elevated. I feel confident of myself. I am of the firm opinion that women can build their confidence and drive away self doubt by taking up distance running. It’s good for health and it’s good for life.”

Cultural entertainment
A group of traditional Apsara dancers entertained the crowd, while a 14-member group of Japanese drummers came up with a spell-binding rendition of Japan’s traditional Taiko, a rhythmic offering to appease the Gods for prosperity and good health.

But the loudest cheers of the evening was reserved for a Japanese professional female wrestler when she plied one of the tricks of her trade on none other than NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun, himself a former wrestler of repute. After introducing her to the gathering, the sports official had a shock in store as he was flung with effortless ease over the pro wrestler’s shoulder and brought down with a thud to a thunderous round of applause.

H S Manjunath
Cambodia’s long distance pride and joy Hem Bunting left behind his Guangzhou Asian Games infractions to stay superbly focused on winning the 15th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon around the historic terrains of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap yesterday.
A seasoned marathoner all his adult life, the SEA Games silver and bronze medalist toyed with a field of nearly three thousand, setting a tempo that was too hot to handle for amateur runners drawn from 53 countries.
Smoothly taking charge within the first few of the 21 kilometres, Hem Bunting was cruising along comfortably by the half way stage. With less than five kilometres to go, he stepped up the pace to forge a sizeable lead which he maintained right up to the finish, clocking an impressive time of 1 hour 10 minutes 11 seconds.
Evan Fox of the United States worked his way ahead of the chasing pack to take the runners-up berth with a time of 1:15.55, just a shade ahead of Japan’s Neko Hiroshi who took the remaining podium place.
“It wasn’t easy. I was concentrating on sustaining my pace [rather] than looking back as to see who is closest to me,” said Hem Bunting, who is currently facing the wrath of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia for his alleged unsportsmanlike conduct in the recent Asian Games held in Guangzhou.
The men’s 10km event was a close affair with Sya Wath of Laos checking in seconds faster than Alex van der Meer of Ireland to grab the top prize. The light-framed Laotian runner timed 32 minutes 13 seconds to keep the Irishman at bay, with Australia’s Leigh Vial close behind for third.
The women’s half marathon was won with a measure of comfort by Japan’s Satoko Uejani in 1:22.31, four minutes clear of Vivian Tang of Singapore and seven minutes ahead of Australia’s Heather Danks.
In sharp contrast, the women’s 10km provided a thrilling tussle between the tall and well built Leng Leng Koh of Singapore and the compact frame of New Zealander Tanya Randall. With nothing between them going in the final three kilometres, Koh dug deep to break away and end up finishing a minute faster than Randall.  

Athletes with disabilites race
Meanwhile yesterday in the 10km run for men with a leg disability, Sam Mao, Nhork Kimlov and Ung Vatana filled the top three spots, while Meas Kim Sang, Lun Kamsal and Chhim Channy were first home respectively in the 10km run for men with a hand disability.
The 21km wheelchair race was won with something in reserve by Cambodian champion Van Vun. Pov Sophal and Oun Sophal completed the podium.
The 10km event for women with a leg disability saw Sok Chamroeun triumph ahead of Euch Vun and Chhoeung Mach. Na Vath edged Pi Sey in their women’s 10km wheelchair match race.
Though the day went by generally incident-free there were a couple of health scares, most notably when a runner from New Zealand collapsed close to the finishing line with apparent exhaustion. However, a medical unit was at hand to quickly stretcher him off to a waiting ambulance.
A bit of jostling before the start of the 3km Fun Run resulted in two participants knocking down an elderly woman, although she was helped to her feet quickly enough. A committed mother of three managed to complete the fun run with a baby on her back and two in a stroller to the appreciation of the crowd.
Another a huge roar went up when two parents raced over the finish line pushing a stroller with their son fast asleep.

Runners dress to impress
Various costumes were donned for the 10km race, including animal outfits featuring a bear, a monkey, a tiger, a bison and an elephant.
Two teachers from Phnom Penh made their own fashion statements in grass skirts and feathered caps.
Meanwhile, Camille Chai, who works for a French NGO in Phnom Penh and was born with a disabled arm and leg, cheered her boyfriend, her Canadian mother and her Cambodian father to the finish line. Chai then confirmed her determination to race next year.
Capping off the collection was an elderly man fitted with a pace maker. “It sets the pace for me,” he said.
The annual athletics event around Angkor Wat helps raise funds for people with artificial limbs and contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Jointly organised by the Khmer Amateur Athletic Federation, the NOCC and the Angkor Wat Half Marathon Organising Committee, with active support from several private organisations and NGOs, the 15th edition attracted a record number of entries with participating nations up from 47 last year to 53.

Arimori honoured at feast
On Saturday evening, the organisers served a delicious cultural feast at a fund-raising gala dinner in the Angkor temple complex for a select gathering of around 300 people.
Japan’s Olympic marathon icon Yuko Arimori took centre stage when she was honoured with the prestigious Monisaraphoan Moha Sena medal for her outstanding contribution over the years in promoting the half marathon in her role as Representative Director of local NGO Hearts of Gold. A yellow sash pinned with the medal was presented to her by the Tourism Minister and NOCC President Thong Khon.
Yuko Arimori is a household name in Japan, not only for her exploits as an Olympian with a marathon bronze and silver medal at the Barcelona and Atlanta Games respectively in the 1990s, but for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations. The Japanese marathoner was also honoured by the International Olympic Committee for her career achievements.
After running in the inaugural half marathon, she jumped to the organisational front in successive editions. “She has been part and parcel of every half marathon in the last 14 years,” said Thong Khon in his appreciation address.
Arimori recalled her humble beginnings as a distance runner, and how her passion lead her to success.
“I had no choice,” she told the Post yesterday. “I had no speed, I wasn’t so strong, but I loved to run and run and run, and marathon suited me fine.
“I am me when I run – that’s me. I feel elevated. I feel confident of myself. I am of the firm opinion that women can build their confidence and drive away self doubt by taking up distance running. It’s good for health and it’s good for life.”

Cultural entertainment
A group of traditional Apsara dancers entertained the crowd, while a 14-member group of Japanese drummers came up with a spell-binding rendition of Japan’s traditional Taiko, a rhythmic offering to appease the Gods for prosperity and good health.
But the loudest cheers of the evening was reserved for a Japanese professional female wrestler when she plied one of the tricks of her trade on none other than NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun, himself a former wrestler of repute. After introducing her to the gathering, the sports official had a shock in store as he was flung with effortless ease over the pro wrestler’s shoulder and brought down with a thud to a thunderous round of applause.

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