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Seavmey to open gold defence

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Cambodia’s Seavmey Sorn (left) lands a kick on Kirstie Alora of the Philippines in their semifinal at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon on October 3, 2014. AFP

Seavmey to open gold defence

As the kid sister of the highly talented London 2012 taekwondo Olympian Sorn Davin, Seavmey created a stir as a 15-year old when she won bronze at the 2011 Indonesia South East Asia Games in Jakarta.

Over the following years, Seavmey has become a national treasure after making history at the Incheon Asiad in South Korea in 2014 when she ended Cambodia’s more than six decade wait by becoming the Kingdom’s first ever Asian Games gold medallist.

Older by seven years from when she first tasted glory, Seavmey is back all the wiser after her qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics, her 2017 SEA Games gold medal in Malaysia and the further honing of her skills after training hard under long-time South Korean coach Choi Yong Sok.

The 22-year-old returns to the bustling Indonesian capital’s Convention Center Plenary Hall for what she regards as the greatest mission of her career so far.

On Tuesday morning at 10am (there is no time difference between Jakarta and Phnom Penh), Seavmey will open the defence of her 2014 gold medal in the women’s +67kg class against relatively inexperienced Sri Lankan Ranuri Wanthila Wickramasinghe.

This round of 16 contest will be a significant lead up to Seavmey’s progress through what appears to be a quality field that includes the Philippines’ Kirstie Alora, who lost to the Cambodian in the Kuala Lumpur 2017 final.

On her arrival a few days ago in Jakarta, Seavmey sat down for an interview with National Olympic Committee of Cambodia press attache Ken Gadaffi to express her gratitude to the people of Cambodia for their prayers and warm support, and singled out Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal best wishes and encouragement as a major spur in her goal of adding another gold medal to her collection.

She candidly spoke about the pride of representing the Kingdom in such a huge event and living up to massive expectations.

“Some people think the burden of expectation bothers me and makes me nervous. No. Instead the people’s blessing is a source of strength and it adds to my motivation,” she said.

“I am honoured to be here. I will do my best for the country and I am inspired by the support.

“It is one fight at a time, and I will give everything I have to win each one of them until I complete this great mission,” the Phnom Penh native said.

Meanwhile, Seavmey’s long-time coach Choi played down concerns expressed in certain quarters about the possible impact of the injury Seavmey suffered before the 2016 Olympics, where she was thought to have been not quite a hundred per cent.

‘Mentally strong’

In the 2017 Malaysian SEA Games campaign the effects of the injury was one of the main talking points, but she eventually proved her mettle and took home the gold.

“I feel she is mentally and physically strong enough now to defend her gold medal,” Choi said.

“It is a tough field no doubt and she has to bring out her best every time she enters the fight. But I am confident she will do well.”

“Now we know the line-ups and we will work out the strategy accordingly. It is your own resolution that counts and not the reputation of your rival, and Seavmey has the perfect understanding of this and she is fearless,” Choi added.

As the excitement builds up towards fight time on Tuesday, the entire country will be watching with bated breath every move that Seavmey makes in her opening fight, and the Sri Lankan’s comparitively “light” track record should work in favour of the Cambodian star.

But both Seavmey and her coach have refused to talk further than beyond the opening fight.

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