With sports results flooding in from Vientiane, the Cambodian delegation provides stories of success and disappointment, with athletes reflecting on missed chances to clinch gold medals
HEM Bunting finished a disappointing sixth in the SEA Games 5,000m race Sunday at the main stadium of National Sports Complex in Vientiane. Cambodia’s top runner – who grabbed a bronze in the event at the 2007 SEA Games – crossed the line in 15 minutes, 45.63 seconds, just over a minute behind gold medal winner Aung Khaing of Myanmar. Thailand’s Boonthung Srisung took silver with Julius Sermona of the Philippines in bronze.
Hem Bunting was distraught at the result. He claimed he held a great position in from the start. However, the 24-year-old will aim to rescue his reputation in the marathon this morning – he won silver in the event at the last SEA Games.
In other athletics events, Sou Titlina and Sar Chubvesna failed to progress from their heats in the women’s and men’s 100m races respectively.
Sar Chubvesna claimed he found the racing conditions difficult. “In Cambodia, we don’t have [an international] standard track,” he said. “But others countries have, so their athletes adapt well.
“In sport, it’s quite hard to be the best. When I get better, other athletes go to a higher level than me. We need more time, I think,” he added.
Experience gained from defeats
Over on the tennis courts, mixer doubles pair Orn Sambath and Cheng Chornay lost 6-1, 6-1 to Indonesian opponents, and Ek Chamroeun and Cheng Srey Pich were also defeated in their mixed doubles match 6-1, 6-0 by a Malaysian duo. Orn Sambath recognised the higher standard of the Indonesian players, who boast experience from many international matches. “I accept the result because I’m still young in such a competition,” he said. “I have to learn more about my weaknesses.”
However, Tep Rithivit, general secretary of Tennis Federation of Cambodia, who attended all the matches, congratulated his players for their performances. “They improved so much, especially Cheng Chornay who put some pressure on her opponents,” he asserted. “I’m so happy to see them play against the high-level players from Indonesia and other countries in every event. They are still young, so they can learn from those experiences.”
According to the secretary, the Federation has planned to send the players to different competitions in the region and beyond, especially at university level. “If they have many competitions, their performance can be improved,” he noted.
The Kingdom’s medal hopes now rest solely on the shoulders of its top two men’s players, Tan Nysan and Bun Kenny, who face the daunting task of overcoming Thai stars Kittiphong Wachiramanowong and Danai Udomchoke respectively in the singles competition. “It’s the first time for us that two Cambodians are in the quarterfinals,” enthused Tep Rithivit. “I won’t be easy for them to play against the strong players, but I think they can make a good result.” Bun Kenny recognised that his opponent will be hard work, but nevertheless, winning the game is his main objective.
Ups and downs in petanque
Over at the pentanque courts, Duch Sophaon and Ke Leng collected bronze for Cambodia in the women’s doubles competition Monday morning after losing 11-13 to Laos in the semifinals. The Cambodians threw away their chance of victory with a lack of concentration at the end, and the Laotians were cheered into the final by a crowd of local supporters. They beat Thailand 13-6 to claim the gold.
“I’m so sad that we couldn’t go to the final round,” said Ke Leng, who won the silver medal at the previous SEA Games. “It was all on one game. Some we win and some we lose, but I always try my best.”
Meanwhile in mixed doubles, Cambodia’s Duong Dina and Chan Daren beat hosts Laos 13-3 in the semifinals to set up a showdown Monday afternoon against the Thai team. Sadly, the former bronze medalists had to settle for silver, with Thai pair Ekkasit Phadungsap and Taddaw Pundech triumphing 13-6 in the final.
Probably the biggest surprise for the petanque delegation was the first-round exit of reigning men’s doubles champions Yim Sophaon and Ouk Chimi. The Cambodian pair failed to make the podium after losing 3-13 to Malaysia, and 1-13 to Laos in the preliminaries, with a 13-11 victory over Thailand not enough to advance to the semifinals.
Boxers to fight for gold medal shots
The Kingdom is guaranteed three more medals from boxing, with boxers hoping to improve on the two bronzes won Sunday with wins in semifinals today. Ven Diaman faces Filipinos Vicera Bill in the pinweight (45kg) category, while featherweight (57kg) Phal Sophat will meet Indonesian Moniaga Arenaldo, and Svay Sitha takes on Vietnamese Pham Son Tung in the light welterweight (64kg) class. Of the six boxers sent to Vientiane, only Long Lamda has failed to grab a medal, losing his flyweight (51kg) quarterfinal against Indonesia’s Julio Bria.