Chhoeung Puthearin with a Cambodian flag after winning the under 53-kilogram taekwondo title at the Korea Open in Gumi. Photo Supplied
Chhoy Bouthorn (left) and Chan Sovetha train at the National Sports Complex in Phnom Penh on Thursday under the watchful eye of head coach Choi Yang Sok. The two boys will attend the Asian Games in November. Sreng Meng Srun
THE Kingdom’s Asian Games taekwondo campaign has been given a shot in the arm following gold medal winning performances at the Korean Open by 18-year-old Sorn Davin and 21-year-old Chhoeung Puthearim.
The national team’s head coach Choi Yang Sok of South Korea, who has been part of taekwondo’s collective consciousness in Phnom Penh for nearly 14 years, is more than happy that the two girls can now look forward to the trip to Guangzhou in November with heightened optimism.
“It has done wonders to their self belief and it brings a lot more synergy to their preparation for the next tough test in China,” said the coach. “It is all the more pleasant because these two girls performed much above expectations in that Korean meet.”
As part of a cultural and sports exchange programme between Cambodia and South Korea, Sorn Davin and Chhoeung Puthearim were given a six-month scholarship to train at the Incheon Asian Games Support Headquarters. Entry into the Korean Open A-class competition two weeks agp came as a welcome diversion and both competitors made the best of the opportunity. Sorn Davin, came through a tough line up in the under 73-kilogram division to claim gold, while Chhoeung Puthearim emerged victor in the under 53-kilogram section.
“It was an open competition and they had to deal with some strong contenders,” said Choi Yang Sok, who joined the girls in South Korea for the event. “Considering that the standard in Korea is quite high, it is good result for the two.
“Both the girls will stay back in Korea and will join the Kingdom’s team in time for the Asian Games. They will undergo tough training regimens in Korea with professionals. Besides honing their skills in taekwondo, there are experts to help them with mind exercises, physique and nutrition. This is one of the best overall packages for training you can ever imagine.
“Taekwondo in Cambodia has come a long way since I started coaching here in 1996,” added the coach. “We have made progress, but it has been slow. We need more and more men and women, boys and girls, to take up this sport to create a strong player base to build on.”
Choi Yang Sok is now back in Phnom Penh, coaching the remaining two athletes in the taekwondo team ahead of the November showpiece.
“Chhoy Bouthorn and Chan Sovetha are training hard here for the Asian Games,” he said. “The standards are very high in these games. Medals are not easy to get but the experience of taking part in such a mega event will help them a great deal. I hope the new found success [of the girls] in Korea will rub off on the team.”