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High expectations for Cambodian wrestling

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Cambodian wrestlers training together at Morodok Techo National Stadium. SUPPLIED

High expectations for Cambodian wrestling

The Wrestling Federation of Cambodia (WFC) has set the goal of winning at least two gold medals at the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which will take place from May 12-23 in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

The target was set after the national wrestling team coaches saw a significant improvement in the level of ability and skills of each athlete after several months of active training.

In preparation for the games, the WFC gathered their wrestlers for a five-month closed training session at the Morodok Techo National Stadium. The training began in January and aimed to build on their physical conditioning and focus on the technique of each wrestler’s discipline.

Regarding the wrestlers improvement following the intense training, Kang Den Piseth, the Cambodian coach, said his athletes are ready for the SEA Games.

He told The Post on May 1: “Our wrestlers are ready... I expect our men and women to do their very best. The federation is aiming for double gold medals in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.”

Last year, the WFC hired Iranian coach Komeil Ghasemi – a former Olympic gold medalist – to help train and improve the skills of Cambodian athletes.

Some athletes were also sent to training camps abroad. Ten athletes spent more than two months training in Iran with Ghasemi from February 11 to April 21.

In addition, two wrestlers were sent to train with Korean coach Kim Soogil in South Korea to help them improve their Greco-Roman skills. The pair was in Korea from April until May.

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Cambodian women wresters practice their skills with their patners at Morodok Techo National Stadium, ahead of the SEA Games in Vietnam. SUPPLIED

Although the WFC had to deal with a number of challenges, such as injuries to athletes and restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the training went smoothly. The federation implemented strict measures, and did not allow athletes to leave the closed training camp for the full five months.

The WFC – with Vath Chamroeun as president and Casey Barnett as his deputy – will send a total of 16 athletes, including five women, to the games. The team will depart the Kingdom on May 14.

Cambodian wrestlers won five bronze medals – four in freestyle and one in Greco Roman – at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019 after sending 13 athletes.

The 11 male athletes are Soeun Sopheas, competing in the 57kg freestyle; Chun Thuon in the 65kg freestyle; Ol Sao Heang in the 74kg freestyle; Heng Vuthy in the 86kg freestyle; Mo Zari in 97kg freestyle; Su Bali in the 125kg freestyle; Don Sao in the 97kg Greco-Roman; Keo Sopheak in the 87kg Greco-Roman; Nguon Makara in the 77kg Greco-Roman; Eng Phanit in the 67kg Greco-Roman; and Yun Bunna in the 60kg Greco-Roman.

The five women are Din Samnang competing in the 50kg freestyle; Sambath Vannak in the 53kg freestyle; Soeun Noeun in the 57kg freestyle; Um Ji-Un in the 62kg freestyle; and Chea Kanha who will also be competing in the 68kg freestyle category.

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