Cambodia's hosting of the 17th Women’s and Junior Petanque World Championships came to a close at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday night with the Kingdom celebrating a hugely successful tournament and yet another gold medal for Ke Leng.
The five-day competitions attracted 449 athletes from 49 countries and as the competitors headed home on Sunday, Thailand led the medals table with two golds and one bronze, France finished second with one gold and two bronze medals, while Cambodia placed third.
But it was the Kingdom’s Leng who made history, clinching her fourth consecutive World Championship gold and surpassing the previous record she had shared with France’s Angelique Papon, who won three successive titles between 2006 and 2009.
Leng, who earned her three previous World Championship titles in France in 2013, in Thailand two years later and in 2017 in China, defeated Laos’ Bivilak Thepphakan 36-22 in the final.
In the women’s triple final Thailand beat Laos 13-4, their seventh gold in the format, two more than second-placed Spain and four ahead of France.
Cambodia, whose best result in the triple category was bronze in 2017 and 2013, lost out 13-6 to Laos the semi-finals.
The Kingdom has a rich history in the sport, with Leng and teammates Ouk Sreymom and Un Srey Ya gaining international attention after a string of successes.
Leng and Sreymom won gold in the doubles category at the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, while Srey Ya bagged gold at the Trophee L’Equipe in France – the home of petanque – in October.
In the junior triple division semi-finals, Laos beat Spain 13-7 while France saw off Thailand 13-8. The final was a lopsided affair, with the French easing to the gold medal by outscoring Laos 13-1.
The junior precision shooting category saw Thailand win gold, beating Monaco 37-15 in the final.
Prime Minister Hun Sen led the tributes to Leng, writing on his official Facebook page on Friday: “Congratulations to our sport heroine Ke Leng, who successfully defended her Petanque World Championships title for the third time, after defeating her Lao counterpart Bivilak Thepphakan 36-22 in the final of the 17th World Youth and Women’s Petanque Championships this afternoon at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
“It is a national honour and pride that Leng has claimed her fourth consecutive world gold medal, while no other country’s player has matched Cambodia’s achievement. It is a rare history-making record.
“Thank you to our countrymen and women for their support and for promoting of our national sports.”