Cambodia’s Kieng Samorn runs behind Hem Bunting (numbered M033) next to Japan-born comic Kuniacki Takizaki (M075) at the start of last year’s Phnom Penh Half Marathon. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
The second running of the Olympic Day Phnom Penh International Half Marathon on June 17 is expected to attract more than 2,000 participants, according to National Olympic Committee of Cambodia estimates.
“On a year-to-year projection, we expect a much bigger turn out than the inaugural run in 2011. The response globally has been very encouraging so far, and by the flag off time the number could be as high as 2,500, the target we have in mind,” NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun told the Post yesterday.
The Phnom Penh International Half Marathon will be organised by the NOCC in partnership with Cambodia Dream, a conglomerate of several like-minded Japanese business firms and interests.
Vath Chamroeun also pointed out a sharp increase in Japanese runners for this year’s race.
“Between 60 to 70 participants have already registered and we expect at least another 40 to 50 more Japanese entries,” said the Secretary, who has just returned from a three-day visit to Japan.
“During my trip [to Japan], I met the officials of the Japanese Travel Agency, which is one of the biggest in the country. The agency has offered to take full care of the travel needs of all the Japanese participants.
“Another Japanese corporate player to support the Phnom Penh run this year is BMM,” he added.
Neko makes way for Kieng Samorn
The NOCC has officially named distance runner Kieng Samorn as a replacement for Kuniaki Takizaki in their delegation of athletes bound for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Takizaki, a Japanese comedian more commonly known by his stage name Neko Hiroshi, had previously been selected as the Kingdom’s entry for the marathon race after controversially but successfully obtained Cambodian citizenship last October.
However, the world’s athletics governing body, the IAAF, ruled earlier this month that he would not eligible to represent Cambodia until the middle of October this year.
The men’s marathon will be held on the streets of London on August 12.
“Kieng Samorn will take part in the men’s 800 metres,” said Vath Chamroeun. “Kuniaki Takizaki has taken the IAAF decision very sportingly. He is more than satisfied by the way his case was presented by both the NOCC and the athletics federation, and he has made it clear to us that he will wait for his day.”
In regards to issues arising from the Japan native’s citizenship application, the secretary contended that due process of the law had been followed.
Meanwhile, the NOCC has confirmed that three females – swimmer Hem Thon Vitiny, 200-metre sprinter Chan Seiha and taekwondo star Sorn Davin – will head to the London Olympics along with newly nominated Kieng Samorn.
“We are trying to find an entry for swimmer Hem Thon Ponleu. He is well short of the required standards. We are waiting for the world swimming body FINA to make a decision on our request,” added Vath Chamroeun.
PSE to host Sports For All event
In an effort to boost sports awareness among the less privileged section of the society, the NOCC will organise a Sports for All tournament in Phnom Penh on June 15 and 16 with logistical support from local charity organisation Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE).
“The idea is to get under-privileged children involved in sports and to spread Olympic ideals. The PSE complex is a very suitable venue,” said Vath Chamroeun.
“During the two-day Sports For All, children will not only take part in team games like volleyball, hockey and football, they will also learn a lot about sports culture and health. There will also be several cultural activities,” added the NOCC official.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]