Fresh from her SEA Games silver-medal performance in Jakarta last week, taekwondo star Sorn Davin is heading to Bangkok tomorrow for a tournament that could result in her becoming the first Cambodian to officially qualify for the Olympic Games in 16 years.
Although the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia is allowed to send a small delegation of wild-card entrants to each four-yearly edition, it is extremely rare for a Cambodian athlete to come even close to the qualification mark.
According to the NOCC, only Vath Chamroeun, who is now NOCC secretary-general, achieved the grade when he represented the Kingdom in wrestling at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
National taekwondo coach Choi Young Sok, of South Korea, revealed that Sorn Davin and two of her team-mates, all aged 23, were set to participate in the 2012 London Games qualifier in Thailand, despite having returned from Indonesia just a few days ago.
“The qualifier in Bangkok will feature around 20 athletes in each weight class hailing from Asian nations,” he said yesterday.
Choi Young Sok will take a team over the border tomorrow ahead of matches beginning on Saturday.
According to the coach, the towering Sorn Davin will compete in the over-67kg event, while Chhoeung Puthearim will fight in the women’s over-57kg and US-born Tubbs Daren in the men’s over-68kg.
Sorn Davin told the Post during a training session yesterday that she has been waiting a long time for a shot at the Olympic Games.
“If I can get through or not, doesn’t matter. I just want to try,” she said.
Questioned for her about silver-medal result at the SEA Games, Sorn Davin said: “Actually, I could have won the gold. Unfortunately, I couldn’t because my left hand was injured. I had broken my little finger during the semifinal when fighting with the Indonesian athlete [Katur Yuni Riyanin]. Fortunately, I beat her to advance to the final.
“In the gold-medal match, I was ahead on points over the Vietnamese athlete [Ha Thi Nguyen], but she seemed to understand that I was injured and focused [her attacks] on it. Eventually, the doctor decided to stop the match.”
The team doctor and coach have given Sorn Davin the all-clear to compete in this weekend’s qualifiers, as the martial art form involves use of the feet only.
TRANSLATED BY PANN RETHEA