Cambodia's Olympic squad capped off their fortnight of competition in London with a three-day tour of Paris courtesy of the My Olympic Heroes sponsorship campaign initiated by Air France, the official transporters of Team Cambodia.
Two of the athletes, taekwondo star Sorn Davin and judoka Khom Ratanak Mony, were unable to join due to personal engagements, while swimming pair Hem Thon Ponleu and Hem Thon Vitiny and athletics duo Chan Seyha and Kieng Samorn were accompanied by swimming coach Hem Kiry, athletics team leader Pen Vuthy, taekwondo team leader Hem Samnang, NOCC Games Coordinator and acting Chef de Mission to London 2012 Nhan Sokvisal and NOCC Adviser and Press Attache Ken Gadaffi.
The team touched down in the French capital on Tuesday and were taken on a tour of the city, including visiting Basilique du Sacre Coeur cathedral and taking a boat cruise on the Goergious Pompido River.
On Tuesday evening, they attended dinner at the famous Bangkok Express restaurant hosted by Measketh David, the Consular of the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Cambodia to UNESCO.
The following day, another city tour took in Notre Dame cathedral, the 3,300-year-old Egyptian monument, the Luxor Obelisk, and a trip to the Louvre Museum.
The Cambodian delegation were then treated to a grand reception by the Cambodian Embassy in Paris, with Cambodian Ambassador to France and the European Union Uch Kiman, Cambodian Ambassador to UNESCO Nouth Narang and Measketh David in attendence.
Both ambassadors congratulated the athletes for representing their country with pride and dignity. They noted that they had followed the Games closely and watch highlights of some of Cambodia’s events and were pleased with the performances, urging the competitors not to relent in their efforts but to continue to press on by training hard and preparing well for future competitions.
“The Olympics is not only about winning medals but about participation and ensuring that our country’s flag is flown,” Nouth Narang, a former minister of culture, stated in his address to the delegation.
In his speech, Uch Kiman commended the athletes for their bravery to compete alongside top athletes, with great emphasis on Sorn Davin, who lost narrowly to former Olympic champion and this year’s bronze medallist Maria de Rosario Espinoza of Mexico in the first round.
“We are proud of your participation at the Olympics, and the Cambodian Embassy in Paris will continue to support and provide assistance to Cambodian athletes to international competitions should they transit or pass through France,” said the ambassador.
The delegation completed their Parisian progress yesterday before boarding the Air France flight to Phnom Penh. They are expected to arrive home tonight.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ken Gadaffi at [email protected]