Asian Games gold medallist and Rio Olympics qualifier Sorn Seavmey captivated a small group of fledgling entrants to taekwondo with her presence and graceful display of basics at the Harrods International Academy, a Singaporean-British curriculum school, in Phnom Penh yesterday.
As students said, in brief opening remarks to an audience of fellow students, teachers and parents, the academy was excited to have someone like Seavmey in their midst.
A dozen or so students of the Academy’s taekwondo class put on a thrilling exhibition of the fighting style they will attempt to master as they grow up to often approving applause from the country’s best known sports star.
After nearly 20 minutes of action, during which there was one outstanding sideways kick by a girl and a reverse kick by a boy, Seavmey in casual dress took off her shoes to show the kids the basics using the taekwondo instructor as her foil.
Each of her moves were cheered by the students, who were obviously keen to hear what advice and life tips she had in store for them, and many of them may have imagined a glorious path like hers in their careers.
It was no surprise that most of the taekwondo class, especially the girls, had been greatly impacted by Seavmey’s phenomenal success and stardom.
As principal Jessica Braithwaite succinctly put it in her welcome address, the Asian Games gold medallist is a role model with the unique ability to inspire youngsters.
Addressing the taekwondo novices directly, Seavmey pointed out that they must deem themselves lucky that they have such good training opportunities at the Academy, compared to her own formative days when money and facilities had always been a major constraint.
Make the best use of what you have, train hard and success will follow were her most compelling pieces of advice. To the girls in particular she said even if they could not pursue the sport competitively, they must as a form of self defence.
On the sidelines, Seavmey indicated that her focus will be on the forthcoming SEA Games in Malaysia where she will compete in the +73kg class, stepping up from her +67 Kg Olympic debut in Brazil.
Of greater significance will be her bid to repeat Incheon Asian Games gold in Jakarta next year. After the SEA Games bid, she is likely to have a long training stint in South Korea under coach Choi Yong-sok.
“She has been training twice a day and continues to work hard. She is in good shape and eager to win back the SEA Games gold medal after sitting out the Singapore edition because she could not find an appropriate weight category,” said an NOCC official who accompanied Seavmey to the Academy.