Cambodian sprinter Chan Seyha (left) and middle-distance runner Kieng Samorn complete a training run in front of athletics team leader Pen Vuthy (right) at the Newham Sports Centre in London. Photograph: Dan Riley/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia's 200-metre sprinter Chan Seyha received a welcome boost from a brand new set of running shoes courtesy of sponsors NagaWorld ahead of her heat at approximately 7:20pm (1:20am Cambodian time) tonight in front of the packed out stands of London’s Olympic Stadium.
The silver-soled pair of Nike Zoom Superfly running spikes, which were purchased from the Sweatshop outlet at the Westfield Shopping Centre adjacent to the Olympic Park, will hopefully help lift the 17-year-old to improving her personal best of 26.34 seconds.
In the absence of synthetic running tracks in Cambodia, Seyha had not required the need for spiked shoes for training purposes or competition, but a local athletics enthusiast and volunteer at their training facility at the Newham Sports and Leisure Centre last week had willed them to obtain some before competing at the stadium.
“I’m delighted to get new shoes for running and I wish to thank NagaWorld for buying them for me,” Seyha told the Post on Thursday.
NagaWorld's Vice President of Events, Promotion and Entertainment Rajesh Kumar said his company was 100 per cent committed to supporting the Cambodian delegation and acted quickly to help the runner.
“As soon as we heard of Seyha’s situation, we agreed to purchase her new shoes. We hope she can use them to produce a top performance on Monday night,” he said.
Cambodia’s other track athlete at the London Games is men’s 800-metre specialist Kieng Samorn. The 29-year-old, a late replacement for ineligible Japanese-born marathoner Kuniacki Takizaki, will hope to see his admirable work ethic in practice pay off tomorrow morning with a quicker time than his personal best of 1 minute 53 seconds. His race is slated for a 10:50am (4:50pm Cambodian time) start.
“Samorn has been trying very hard at training and we have strong hopes of a good performance from him in the men’s 800 metres event,” athletics team leader Pen Vuthy told the Post.
The ever-smiling Samorn also nearly benefitted from some new spiked shoes, albeit only new to him as they were cast-offs from a generous volunteer at the Newham training facility. The set were unfortunately a size too large for the Cambodian, but will be brought back to the Kingdom for use by another national team member.
“It is sad that we don’t have the proper equipment for our athletes,” said Pen Vuthy. “However, we are inviting two lecturers from the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] on October 19 this year to come to Cambodia. We hope to receive some funding and equipment then.”
The team leader seemed to content with the duo’s preparations for their events, noting that both had closely followed the training programs written out by their respective Cambodian coaches, who were unable to travel with them to London.
“Samorn has completed his course to the letter, and Seyha has also been focused here. We can’t expect any more from them,” added Pen Vuthy.
After the controversy of Takizaki’s attempted inclusion and subsequent omission from the Olympics squad and the ongoing feud between premier long distance runner Hem Bunting and Federation officials, all that Cambodian athletics fans can do now is try to enjoy the performances of their two representatives tonight and tomorrow.
On Saturday, Laos sprinter Kilakone Siphonexay failed to improve on his personal best by running the men’s 100 metres in 11.30 seconds. His compatriot Laenly Phoutthavong also missed out on the chance to better herself with a 13.15 in the women’s 100 metres preliminaries on Friday.
Dan Riley’s reports from the London Games are brought to you by NagaWorld, the best integrated business, leisure and entertainment hub in Indochina. Contact the reporter on this story at [email protected]