Advances in training – as well as silver and bronze medals winning performances in a series of recent international competitions – have given the Cambodian Gymnastics Federation (CGF) confidence that it may achieve its goal of securing gold at 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games hosted by the Kingdom next year.

The team recently earned cash bonuses for its performances at the recent Asian Aerobics Championships.

CGF secretary-general Noy Phana said the level of ability of the whole team had accelerated thanks to hard training.

“The desire of our athletes to win has intensified in recent competitions. In the gymnastic artistic discipline, I see three or four medal contenders, while in aerobics, I see seven or eight,” he told The Post.

Strong performances in last month’s national games gave the athletes confidence, but it was the medals that they claimed during May’s SEA Games in Vietnam and the two silver and one bronze they took at the 7th Asian Aerobics Championships in September that really convinced them they are capable of challenging for the top spot.

Thong Khon, president of the Cambodian Gymnastics Federation, said at the closing ceremony of the National Sports Competition on November 29: “In the past our team was not strong, but thanks to our excellent Brazilian coach, we have made excellent progress.”

“There are almost six months until we host the games. I hope that our accelerated training programme and our determination will be enough to earn us gold. I expect at least one, but would rather see a larger haul,” he added.

Phana, agreed, saying Khon had a clear understanding of the sport.

“When he suggested that one or two gold medals were possible, he was making a practical assessment. As an expert, I agree with what he said. We will earn at least one, but more are certainly possible,” he said.

For winning two silver and a bronze at September’s Asian championships, the gymnasts and coaches received cash bonuses from the government at a December 6 ceremony. Silver medal winning performances received 20 million riel, while the bronze athletes and coaches earned 16 million.