The national kickboxers of Cambodia opened their accounts on May 8 and made a good start to their medal campaign at the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
Although the competition is ongoing in all weight categories, the kickboxing team has already guaranteed at least four bronze medals for the Kingdom, after winning their first eight qualifiers on Sunday and going through to the semi-finals. The regional sports event awards a gold medal to the winner and silver medal for the runner-up, with the third and fourth placed returning home with bronze.
In the first five opening matches on Sunday, Nov Srey Pov – the youngest fighter – was the only Cambodian kickboxer who was disappointed on the day, after she lost to Bui Linh of the host nation on points during the three-round fight in the 52kg category.
Touch Rachan, Sorn Rakim and Kan Meng Hong all won to advance to the semi-finals, while Lon Panha became the luckiest boxer after being awarded a bye, and thus an automatic advance to the 67kg semi-finals.
Rachan, Rakim and Meng Hong, who all had to use their skill and technique to compete for the opportunity to advance to the next round, left Cambodian fans very satisfied after their wins.
Rachan, better known as “Beut Sangkeum”, gave the Cambodian fans their first smile of the day in the opening match of the 57kg category, defeating Esteban Jomar Balangui of the Philippines on points.
Meng Hong made spectators who livestreamed the match in Cambodia very happy with his strategic nous, utilising both a cunning retreat and an effective attack. Although he could not knock out Lao’s Khammaty Houmphanh in the 54kg category during the match, the Cambodian beat the Lao boxer and won all three rounds with scores of 2-1, 3-0 and 3-0.
Cambodian kickboxer Rakim saved the best for last, as he became the only fighter to win by knockout, with the referee stopping his 63.5kg category battle with Malaysian Awang Muhammad Hazmiey Awang Handra in the second round.