Cambodia’s 2017 SEA Games campaign ended in spectacular fashion yesterday as taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey and fearless muay kickboxer Khun Dima won gold medals to add to Moeun Sophea’s silver on the penultimate day of competition in Kuala Lumpur.
With the curtains on the 29th edition of the biennial games coming down today, the Cambodian contingent will return home with three gold, two silver and 12 bronze medals.
The KL Convention Center, close to the city’s iconic Petronas Towers, provided the perfect stage for 2014 Asian Games gold medallist and Rio Olympics qualifier Seavmey to display in her unique style the full range of her power and finesse as she brought down renowned Philippine fighter Kirstie Elaine Alora in the women’s -73kg final 13-6.
Seavmey remains undefeated by her respected, older rival after their fourth meeting in competition.
With just four in contention, the afternoon’s semifinals presented little or no challenge for both Seavmey and Alora. But having to ready for the final just two hours later did cause some concern in Seavmey’s mind.
Facing Malaysia’s Nurul Nur Haffiza, Seavmey left no room for error as she rattled up a 14-3 win even as Alora was equally emphatic in her win over her opponent from Laos,
“I was a bit nervous because the two matches were so close. I hadn’t had enough rest. But still I was confident since we both had similar conditions,” Seavmey said after the bout.
Seavmey began cautiously. Alora often went for the midrift, trying to evade her rival’s intended head kicks. The first round ended 1-1. Two consecutive head kicks by Seavmey after the interval took her to 6-3 at the end of the second round.
Maintaining her composure, Seavmey handled the rest of the fight with a great degree of confidence, using her better reach and speed, but she was also getting tired.
At 9-6 to Seavmey with 36 seconds to go, Elaine claimed she had scored a head kick. She and her coach called for a video replay that showed she had not. At that stage Seavmey was barely holding on. However, she took a final charge at Alora to finish her off 13-6.
“I did not underestimate her inspite of my previous wins over her. I just prepared hard and I am glad I won,” Seavmey said.
Dima dazzles in the third
Secretary-General of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Vath Chamroeun said: “We are delighted with the two gold medals we got today to add to the one we got in petanque.
“We indeed expected more, but our target of finishing eighth in the table had been met. We missed out on a couple of golds, but we cherish the thought that our athletes did their best.”
Cambodia’s other taekwondo contestants on view in the various Kyorugi weight divisions lost their fights in the morning.
Va Mithona lost to Francis Agojo of the Philippines 2-1, Unvin Sochanrangsey was beaten 2-0 by Thailand’s Panipak and Pan Khemra put up a stiff fight before going down 2-1 to Iskander Zulkanain of Malaysia.
As he stepped on to the ring to fight Thailand’s Chonlawit in the 63kg final, Dima knew he had to be aggressive to overcome his rival, who on the strength of his record and reputation was the obvious favourite.
Warming up late, Dima went down in the first round 10-9 but came charging back in the second. Employing to good measure the same tactics of attack he had used the previous day on the Philippines’ Ryan Jakiri in the semis, he mixed his punches and kicks well enough in the third to wear Chonlawit down 10-9 and take his tournament to the final gold medal round.
In the crucial moments of the decider, Dima had the added advantage of not only the Cambodian fans but also a large section of the Malaysians in the crowd wildly cheering for him.
That clearly pumped him up as he went for his rival with all the ferocity he could muster. That did the trick as he wrapped up the round 10-9 for a well deserved gold.
In the 71kg class, Moeun Sophea met an experienced fighter in Thailand’s Anuek, who confidently blunted the Cambodian’s all-out attacks in the initial stages.
It eventually became apparent that the only way Sophea would beat the Thai would be with a knockout. When that did not happen, Aneuk had the first two rounds under his belt at 10-9 each.
Sophea came back much stronger in the third but by then the damage had been done and all Aneuk had to do was to defend, which he did resolutely.