Cambodia’s emerging teenage windsurfers Heang Sunheng and Soth Mesa took silver and bronze medals respectively in the men’s Techno open class windsurfing at the Johor International Regatta, which concluded on Sunday.
As the sailors took an early flight to Kuala Lumpur on their way back to Phnom Penh on Monday morning, both medallists said they have been greatly motivated and inspired by the results.
“We are thankful to the Cambodian Sailing Federation [CSF] for providing us these opportunities, encouragement and training. We are determined to work harder and keep honing our skills,” Sunheng said.
Mesa echoed similar sentiments as team leader and CSF secretary-general Som Sothirithypong attributed the success to the federation’s commitment to raise competitive standards of sailors representing the Kingdom.
The men’s Techno open class windsurfing gold went to Malaysia’s Aiman Sazyani Bin Zulkifli, who never missed out on the top two in the eight race challenge for an impressive net score of nine.
As a bronze medallist at last year’s event, 16-year-old Sunheng, who also represented the Kingdom at the 2017 SEA Games, used that experience and showed marked improvement to be well within range of a second place finish, with his worst placing of fourth in his third race redacted from the score for a net 17, which gave him the silver.
The positives from Johor have raised the CSF’s expectations for better results in the two upcoming events in Pattaya in the build-up towards their Asian Games debut later this year.
Also showing great promise was 16-year-old Mesa, whose net score of 23 earned him the bronze, with six of the 13 entrants failing to finish
While the windsurfers breezed to glory, the other three Cambodian sailors, Duch Bunthoeun in the Laser standard invitational, Nhov Chan in the Laser 4.7 boys and Pal Seayla, the only entry in the windsurfing open invitational, gained invaluable competition experience.
Among the three accompanying officials was CSF chief Sothrithypong, who said the success of the windsurfers reflected the CSF’s hard work in raising the skill levels of the sailors.
CSF coaches Yin Koavesna and Chan Veasna accompanied the group to get firsthand knowledge of racing and sailing management, which forms part of the CSF’s drive to promote the structured development of the sport.
‘Asiad medal hopes raised’
Reacting to the Johor results, president of the CSF Gordon Tang said he was pleased and encouraged by the performances of the young hopefuls.
“I hope these medals will spur them to go for more and increase their appetite and confidence for bigger achievements,” said Tang, who himself is a competitive sailor and one of Cambodian sports biggest benefactors.
“In the two upcoming events in Pattaya in Thailand, I am eager to see these boys rise even higher, and I am confident that the training camp we have planned for them in China starting in May will help their build-up for the Jakarta Asian Games.”
CSF advisor Meng Wang added: “The team has been working really hard and it is so gratifying to see these results.
“We had the Olympic Solidarity coaches training course a few weeks ago in Kep, where we had 24 participants. It opened a window of opportunity to improve the skills and knowledge of sailing for our aspiring coaches and competitors.”
Meanwhile, the CSF is aiming to improve the proficiency of English among the Kingdom’s sailors.
As Singapore-based Meng explained, all sailing instructions internationally are in English, noting that even China has started sending English translators to help their team during overseas events.
“We will discuss the possibility of introducing some supplementary English courses for our CSF team,” Meng said.
The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia commended the CSF and its president for the positive direction in which the federation is heading.
“It is commendable that the CSF has produced such good results in such a short span of three years since it was formed,” said NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun, who is also vice-president of the CSF.
“They have raised our medal hopes for the Jakarta Asiad.”