Ou Ratana, president of the Cambodia Vovinam Federation, urged the athletes who just finished competing at the 3rd National Games to use their results to focus on their shortcomings. This will give them the ability to win the nine gold medals the federation has promised the Cambodia SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) at the 32nd SEA Games 2023.

Ratana said the national games had been an excellent opportunity for the athletes, referees, judges and technical officials of the federation to prepare for upcoming competitions, including the Southeast Asian Championships, which will be hosted by Cambodia in March, and the SEA Games in May.

At the November 22 closing ceremony of the national games at the Morodok Techo stadium, Ratana praised the efforts of all members of the federation, especially its athletes, but drew attention to some weaknesses which needed to be addressed.

“Through the last four days of competition we have seen good results, but I still see some issues. Some of the national team players need to improve their strength and technique,” he said.

“You know which discipline and weight class subject you will be competing in, so please make sure you are well prepared. We don’t want any of our athletes to be trying to cut weight as the competition approaches, as this will mean they won’t have the energy they need to excel,” he added.

At the same time, he told the competitors who were not named to the national squad not to despair. If they improve their skills, they still have a shot at being selected.

He said that senior team members whose abilities declined would be replaced with younger athletes, if the federation officials identified a better chance of a medal winning performance.

“Even if you are currently in the national team, you will be replaced if you do not perform well. I want everyone to be aware that with the games only about 100 days away, we need to be ruthless in our selection process,” he added.

Ratana also reminded the gold, silver and bronze medal winners – especially the gold medallists from May’s 31st SEA Games in Vietnam – not to rest on their laurels.

“Do not be so proud that you lose sight of what you need to do to prepare for the games. You must regard your previous victories as stepping stones towards the nine medals we have promised the government, for the honour of our motherland,” he said.

There were 20 categories of Vovinam at the national games.

The Ministry of National Defence’s Vovinam Association ranked first, winning eight golds, two silvers and a bronze. They were followed by the Ministry of Interior, whose medal count was seven, four and four. The Svay Rieng provincial team placed third, with a medal count of three, six and one.

Prey Veng province won two gold, six silver and two bronze medals, followed by Pailin in fifth, with two silver and four bronze. Kampong Speu brought home one gold and three bronze, with Tbong Khmum province and Phnom Penh each winning three bronze medals.

Vietnam SEA Games gold medallist Eh Virak Kham Chhit Phuthong, better known as Moeun Mekhea (Ten Thousand Skies), was able to retain the top spot in his weight category.

However, he acknowledged that there was still room for improvement and he would be working hard to improve ahead of next year’s games.

“I think I still have a lot of technical shortcomings. I am currently training harder than ever to win medals for our nation. Even though the team has a lot of experience, we need to practice more, to ensure we are stronger than we were at the Vietnam games. My teammates are all training very hard, and if we keep up the tempo of our training, I think we will be capable of collecting even more than the nine medals we have targeted,” said Mekhea, the son of former Cambodian boxing legend Ek Phuthong.