Cambodia table tennis head calls for higher standards

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Cambodia Table Tennis Federation (CTTF) president Kirth Chantharith.

Cambodia Table Tennis Federation (CTTF) president Kirth Chantharith reminded players not to celebrate national or local competition wins, but to train harder to achieve greater results at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games hosted by Cambodia next year.

Chantharith, who is also head of the General Department of Immigration, praised the efforts of the Cambodian team, including the disabled athletes, who competed at the recent 3rd National Games and 1st Para Games. However, he warned them that their standards were not high enough to claim medals at the upcoming biennial multi-sports event.

“I congratulate all of the winners who have shown their love of our sport, especially the disabled athletes who were courageous enough to join the competition. Even though you should be proud of your victories, this just demonstrates our abilities at the national level – not the regional one. Do not be too proud, but train harder. You must focus on improving your physical and mental strength,” he said.

He supported the comments of Prum Bunyi, an adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, at the November 29 closing ceremony of the table tennis tournament. Bunyi praised the CTTF’s progress after Chantharith assumed his leadership role at the federation, noting that while the ping pong players have improved, they still need to work harder as the SEA Games would require a higher level of skill.

“I acknowledge that our athletes have competed as hard as they can. But I want to send them a message. The game of table tennis requires speed and fast decision making. We need to watch our opponents and figure how to counter them – and strength alone will not allow us to do so. We need to master our technique,” said Chantharith.

"I urge all athletes to do more research and work on their serves. They have done well, but they are still limited in their abilities when measured against our regional and international rivals. If they can master their serves, it will give them an advantage.

“If their service is strong, they will intimidate their opponents, which will give them a psychological advantage. They should focus on this. Obviously, their conditioning is also important, as this game requires agility and strength in the legs,” he added.

He expected the coaching staff and match officials to use their experiences at the national games to identify and address any shortcomings.

“After the nationals, we should list our strengths and weaknesses from the five-day competition. If we don’t perform well at the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games 2023, it will have a negative impact on national prestige,” he said.

“If our hospitality or the organisation of the games is poor, it will be assumed that Cambodia is not capable of meeting international standards and remains a backwards country. When we do well – and exceed the standards people are expecting from us – it will bring honour to the Kingdom,” he added.