Ke Leng, the heroine of Cambodian petanque, scooped a gold medal at the 2015 Women’s Petanque World Championships in Bangkok at the weekend.
Ke Leng, coming off the back of a gold medal at the previous world championship, quickly qualified for the quarter finals with a six point victory.
She faced Canada’s Maryse Bergeron in the last eight of a competition that is in its 15th year and features over 100 entrants, winning 41-21, before progressing to an easy win over Audrey Bandiera of France, the birthplace of petanque, with a score of 28 to Bandiera’s 9.
Ke Leng faced strong rival Mouna Beji of Tunisia in the final, which she won 33-24, securing her gold medal and her defence of the world championship in the process.
Ke Leng celebrated her second win at the world championships by waving the Cambodian flag.
Ke Leng also competed in the team event, alongside her countrywomen Um Chanthrea, Uk Sreymom and Un Sreiya, but with less success.
While the team topped the group stages, they lost in the quarter-final to defending world champions Thailand.
Alongside her gold medal, Leng can expect a 120 million riel ($30,000) award from the government.
The celebrations which greeted Ke and the rest of Cambodia’s medal-winners at Phnom Penh airport were somewhat subdued, with only representatives from the National Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Cambodian Boules and Petanque Federation there to welcome her.
However, NOCC General Secretary Vath Chamroeun told the Post before he departed to welcome Ke Leng at the airport that “by winning a gold medal . . . Ke Leng brings a great honour to our country,” and that her win “also salvages our country’s image after we failed to win any gold medals at the SEA Games in Singapore.’’
He also added that: “According to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendations, we will organise an official reception party event for her in the coming days.”
TRANSLATED BY IN SOPHENG