Taekwondo sensation Sorn Seavmey returned home from Manila yesterday after winning a silver medal at the Asian Taekwondo Championships and earning qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio.
She received a rousing reception at Phnom Penh International Airport and was greeted by Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
Not long after touchdown, Seavmey, her coach Choi Yung Suk and teammate Chhoeung Puthearim were whisked away to the NOCC headquarters, where they were wined and dined by Thong Khon, NOCC president and tourism minister; Sao Sokha, NOCC executive committee member and president of the Football Federation of Cambodia; and Ouk Sothecheyat, a representative of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
Later at a congratuationary party, the NOCC president declared that Cambodia was proud of Seavmey’s historic feat and that her qualification on merit for the Olympics had brought a new dimension to Cambodian sports. As a token of appreciation from NOCC, Thong Khon presented Seavmey with a cash reward of $1,000.
Speaking to the Post, the NOCC chief said: “I hope Seavmey will take this to the next level and bring us our first Olympic medal. I congratulate coach Choi Yung Suk for his splendid job. His long and distinguished service to Cambodian sports deserves the highest praise.”
“It has taken 62 years for a Cambodian athlete to earn that qualification. This is an amazing achievement from Seavmey on top of bringing back to the country the first ever Asian Games gold medal from Incheon two years ago,” he added.
Coach Choi Yung Suk said: “I will discuss Seavmey’s Olympic training programs with the NOCC in the next few days. I reckon at least two months of solid preparation has to be in place including a stint in Korea.”
“As for the prospects of a medal in Rio, it is quite tough. But if she trains hard and does her best, she may be able to pull it off.
She is now 43rd in the world rankings in her pet [+67kg] category and that should give her a lot of confidence as well,” said the coach, who is a Korean national.
Choi Yung Suk, who has made Phnom Penh his home for nearly two decades, rated Seavmey’s Olympic qualification a notch higher in value than her Asian Games gold medal.
The 21-year-old taekwondo star told the Post that she found it difficult to decide which achievement was more important to her.
However, after a quick think, she emphatically decided that the Asian Games gold medal was her biggest sporting moment.