Cambodian taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey flew to South Korea on Tuesday evening for a crucial training camp ahead of the Rio Olympics in August, after she became the Kingdom’s first athlete in 62 years to win an Olympic Games place through a qualifying event in the Philippines last month.
Before making her flight to Korea from Phnom Penh International Airport, Seavmey met Thong Khon, the president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, at NOCC’s headquarters in the capital, where she and her trainer Choi Young Seok were given $500 as encouragement.
According to NOCC, Seavmey is expected to fight veteran French Olympic medallist Gwladys Patience Epangue in the first round in the over 67kg heavy-weight division.
The 32-year-old Epangue won the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
Although Epangue, 11 years her senior, has the greater experience, Seavmey at 6ft (1.83m) has a slight height advantage over her 5ft 9in (1.75m) opponent.
“According to the programs of Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Sorn Seavmey is drawn in the heavyweight division among other athletes from 16 countries and is ranked 10th. So she is expected to meet Epangue in the first round,” NOCC general-secretary Vath Champroeun said.
“The lower weight divisions have been drawn by computer program, but at the heavyweight division, the draw has been made by the ranking of each athlete”, he added
According to a source at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Seavmey will receive 1.6 million riel (around $4,000) a month from the ministry while at the training camp.
Seavmey’s trainer, Choi Young Seok, was upbeat on his charge’s prospects. “We expect Seavmey to win the opening round,” the South Korean said.
Translated by In Sopheng