Cambodia’s athletes at Para games lauded

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Cambodia’s ASEAN Para Games 2022 athletes in Solo, Indonesia. SUPPLIED

The leaders of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia expressed their pride in the Kingdom’s athletes after they exceeded the targets set for them at the 11th ASEAN Para Games in Solo, Indonesia 2022. The delegates returned with their medal haul and the para games’ flag, and were rewarded with a flag parade on August 7.

Yi Veasna, chef de mission of the Cambodian delegation, was overwhelmed by the team’s results. The team came home with 7 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals, an incredible feat, especially as the Kingdom prepares to host the games next year, for the first time.

“We left Phnom Penh with the goal of winning three gold medals and we have not just beaten that target, but shattered it. Thanks to their physical and mental strength, every one of our athletes has exceeded our expectations,” he said.

“Participation in the games was a good opportunity to measure their abilities before we organise the 12th ASEAN Para Games 2023 in Cambodia, added Veasna, who also serves assecretary-general of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia.

Hun Many, president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, who led the delegates to the games, also praised the athletes – who worked hard and achieved great results for the motherland.

Many, vice-president of the Paralympic committee, spoke to the athletes at a dinner to celebrate the end of the games.

“I was honoured to accompany these athletes as they represented the Cambodia and the 17million people of the Kingdom. This was a powerful experience which I cannot adequately describe,” he said.’

“If I had not come, I would not have understood the hard work and perseverance of these athletes. I have nothing but sincere appreciation for your efforts. As for the sports that did not win medals, when we return home, we must learn from what we experienced here and turn our weaknessesinto strengths ahead of hosting next year,” he added.

Cambodia sent athletes to participate in 11 sports. The athletics, boccia, men’s sitting volleyball, women’s wheelchair basketball, table tennis, chess and swimming teams brought home 28 medals. The badminton, weightlifting, goalball and CP football teams were unable to clinch any podium results.

The first gold medal was claimed by the three-on-three women’s wheelchair basketball team of An Sineth, Luck Savari, Simda, San Ratha and Duong Chan Reaksa, with the second coming via long jumper VithChantha in the long jump.

Individual boccia exponent Sorn Sal and swimmer NgounRatana collected the third and fourth for the Kingdom.

Chantha won her second gold medal and Cambodia’s fifth, in the women’s 400m T47 race. Sitting volleyball players Tang Ravi, OeunNuth, Yon Krem, NhounSok, Ou Phalla, IngPhirim, NaiKar, SreangLeap, SreangSokna, Poun Dina, Mon Yaran and Kao Hoeun also claimed gold, with the final gold won in the men’s 4 x 4 100m relay by Van Won, Chhun Pun, HeaHok and HengSavoeun.

At the August 6 closing ceremony –presided over by Indonesian President JokoWidodo – Many, representing the Cambodian delegation, accepted the ASEAN Para Games flag from OsothBhavilai, president of the ASEAN Para Sports Federation. As part of the ceremony Cambodia staged a cultural performance designed to showcase the charms of the Kingdom, which drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

The flag was handed to Veasna by Many.

“During this spectacular opening ceremony, Cambodia has received the official flag. This is a source of great pride for our country. It was especially gratifying to hear the rapturous applause from the crowd when Cambodia accepted the flag,” he said.

Upon the team’s return to Phnom Penh International Airport, the flag was presented to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh, in his capacity as president of the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee.

Immediately afterwards, a parade was held to show off the flag and the medal winners. Accompanied by a traditional band and motorcycle outriders, the procession travelled across Phnom Penh until it arrived at the headquarters of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia. The flag will be kept there so that Cambodia is ready to host next year’s games.